Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, and its diagnosis is a death sentence. The reason is that, by the time it is detected, cancer of the pancreas is already too advanced to be effectively treated. However, the National Cancer Institute has awarded a $10.4 million grant to Washington University in St. Louis to develop new therapies to combat the disease and to lengthen the lives of those suffering from it.
The proposed therapies include:
A method to alter the environment around the tumor to make it more susceptible to immunotherapy. The use of the human immune system to fight cancer has been the Holy Grail for new therapies.
A new type of chemotherapy that specifically targets pancreatic cancer tumors and, hopefully, kills them.
Another type of chemotherapy designed to attack tumors that have become resistant to other therapies.
A personalized pancreatic cancer vaccine.
According to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, Pancreatic cancer is the third most deadly cancer there is in the United States, surpassing breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Barring new therapies, the disease is due to become the second-deadliest cause of cancer death in the United States by 2020. Treatment options are currently limited, and risk factors are ill-defined, though they include family history, smoking, and diabetes. Roughly 74 percent of people who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within the first year, with 94 percent dying within five years. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is just three to six months.
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