A patient newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer can expect a particularly bleak prognosis of no more than two years. No exception to this rule, actor Patrick Swayze (the star of one of my all time favorite movies, Dirty Dancing) succumbed to pancreatic cancer just 20 months following diagnosis. In his and most cases, the key problem is that by the time the cancer is detected it is already in an advanced stage. Soon afterward it begins its rapid spread to other organs and, by that point, curative options are few. This has led many to wonder whether pancreatic cancer is an especially aggressive disease or if the current methods of detection do not allow for early enough diagnosis.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and to kick it off, two new studies published in the journal Nature find that pancreatic cancer is actually not swift-moving. In fact, the time between formation of the primary tumor to the patient’s death can span 21 years or longer. This reveals a whole new, and much larger, window of time for early diagnosis and therapy. (Read more…)