Business of Health Care: Pancreatic Cancer

Apr 5, 2019

Recently, longtime Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek announced that he has late stage pancreatic cancer. It’s a difficult diagnosis that many other high-profile individuals have received – including Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze, and current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that, in 2019, more than 55,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease, and 45,000 will die from it. 

While there are certainly other cancers that are more common - breast cancer and colorectal cancer for example - few have a lower survival rate than pancreatic cancer.

The pancreas is a small organ located deep inside the body. Pancreatic cancer is known to be very aggressive, spreading rapidly to other organs. 

Though it spreads quickly, patients often don’t experience symptoms until the later stages when it is often too late. 

Smoking, obesity, and family history all can increase risk of the disease.

Although effectively treating pancreatic cancer is among healthcare’s greatest challenges, it is one that many organizations are seeking to address. 

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will soon launch a new clinical trial platform – a first of its kind bringing together clinicians, researchers, and drug and diagnostic developers at sites across the country. 

The purpose is to rapidly bring promising new options to patients with the goal of doubling pancreatic cancer survivor rates by 2020.  

It's an aggressive goal, but one that will hopefully save lives affected by this aggressive cancer.