The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network said pancreatic cancer will become the second leading cause of cancer death by 2030, according to research presented by the group’s vice president of scientific and medical affairs, Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA, at an American Association for Cancer Research special teleconference, Pancreatic Cancer: Innovations in Research and Treatment.
Data from the NCI and American Cancer Society were analyzed to project trends in cancer, based on a number of factors, including demographics.
“The purpose of this paper was to see if the same cancers would be the same causes of concern in the future,” Matrisian said during the conference.
“There are three factors that went into making these projections. The number of people that we project to be in the U.S., and the demographic changes that are going to happen between now and then — the increase in the number of people 65 years and older and the minority mix. The third factor is any trends that are occurring in the incidence rate and the death rate for major cancers,” Matrisian said.
One of the biggest risk factors for pancreatic cancer is age, according to Matrisian, so the fact that more Americans are living longer influenced the projection. She said black people have a higher incidence of the disease, and published data suggest the population of blacks will grow by 2030. Factors like obesity and diabetes may also partially explain the rising incidence of pancreatic cancer.
“We’ve been so successful in preventing deaths from other major diseases — heart disease, infectious diseases — so we’re living much longer in the U.S.,” she said. “What’s really been striking is that there is a decrease in the number of deaths in other major cancers, and this is particularly evident in colorectal cancer. We’ve had wonderful success in the treatment of colorectal cancer, so the death rate is decreasing as well as the incidence. Colonoscopy has been wonderfully successful in not only detecting the premalignant stages but also removing it and preventing the disease.”
Matrisian said the same kinds of changes have not occurred with pancreatic and liver cancer. “This paper really was a call to action. Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of the major cancers, with a 6% 5-year survival rate, and less than 25% of people live for a year. We’ve been able to turn the tide on other major cancers with an investment in basic and clinical research, so it’s now time to realize that we need to start turning the tide on pancreatic cancer with the same kind of tools.”
Matrisian said the Pancreatic Action Network is raising private funds for pancreatic cancer research, lobbying Congress to invest in research and taking steps to raise public awareness about the disease. – by Shirley Pulawski
Disclosures: Matrisian reports no relevant financial disclosures.