Confronting Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer begins in the cells of the ​pancreas – an organ in the abdomen that lies behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas has two main functions. It makes enzymes that help with digestion, and it makes hormones, such as insulin, that ​control how our bodies store and use glucose – sugar that is the body's main source of energy​.

There are two forms of pancreatic cancer: exocrine pancreatic cancer, which accounts for approximately 95 percent of all cases, and endocrine or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, also called islet cell tumors.   

Smoking, being overweight, having diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and certain hereditary conditions are risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that there will be over 55,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. and some 44,330 deaths from these cancers in 2018. It is the third leading cause of cancer death in this country.   

Moreover, pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. by 2030, behind lung cancer, according to data published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

What Is the AACR Doing in This Area?

As an ambassador for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Foundation, Philadelphia Eagles safety Rodney McLeod has announced Race to $23K for Cancer Research, a fundraiser to support lifesaving cancer research at the AACR. All funds raised for Rodney’s efforts will go toward funding innovative pancreatic cancer-focused research.

In September 2019, the AACR will present its sixth conference on pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic Cancer: Advances in Science and Clinical Care will showcase sessions on tumor heterogeneity, immunology, prevention and early detection, and novel treatment combinations.

In 2018, the AACR granted several promising young researchers scholar-in-training awards for their work in the field of pancreatic cancer. The awardees were:

  • Alexander H. Morrison, University of Pennsylvania - AACR Scholar-in-Training Award
  • Prasenjit Dey, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - AACR-Aflac, Inc. Scholar-in-Training Award
  • Mingen Liu, University of Pennsylvania - AACR-Aflac, Inc. Scholar-in-Training Award
  • Jihye Kim, PhD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - AACR-MEG Scholar-in-Training Award
  • Carmine Carbone, PhD, University of Verona - AACR-SIC Scholar-in-Training Award
  • Geny Piro, PhD, University of Verona - AACR-SIC Scholar-in-Training Award
  • Jisce R. Puik, VU University Medical Center - AACR-Warner Fund Scholar-in-Training Award
  • Sunyoung S. Lee, MD, PhD, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute - AACR Scholar-in-Training Award in Honor of Cathy Whalen
  • Vincent Bernard, MS, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award
  • Hannah O. Dada, University of Pennsylvania - AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award
  • Nina J. Chu, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - AACR Women in Cancer Research Scholar Award
  • Kathleen E. DelGiorno, PhD,  The Salk Institute - AACR Women in Cancer Research Scholar Award

As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the AACR has provided scientific support, review, and oversight for "Dream Teams" of leading pancreatic cancer researchers. Teams were formed in 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2017. All four teams gather semi-annually to share their findings. 

The AACR's mission is to prevent and cure all forms of cancer.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is a 501c3 registered nonprofit organization with offices at 615 Chestnut Street, 17th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106 | 215.440.9300