On this global day of fight against pancreatic cancer, the numbers are alarming. Mortality rates increased by 5% between 1990 and 2016 in the European Union.
Pancreatic cancer mortality rates increased by 5% between 1990 and 2016 in the European Union. This is the largest increase of the five deadliest cancers in this geographical area. We are talking here about pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
The lowest survival rate
While cancers of the lung, breast, colon and rectum have experienced a significant decline in death rates since 1990, deaths from pancreatic cancer continue to increase. Pancreatic cancer is now the third leading cause of death in the European Union, in front of breast cancer.
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all cancers. Responsible for more than 95,000 European deaths each year, the median survival time at diagnosis is only 4.6 months. Only 2% of survivors can continue to live in good health. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are difficult to identify. As a result, early diagnoses, which offer patients more opportunities to cope without damage, are all too rarely established.
2% of all research funds
Despite all these alarming data, pancreatic cancer receives less than 2% of all cancer research funds in Europe. "To provide earlier diagnoses and improved treatments, we need to engage now in more basic research to see real progress for our patients in the years to come," says Markus Peck, gastroenterologist.
Especially since new discoveries give hope. At the moment, researchers are studying, for example, how the modification of the pancreas microbiome can help slow tumor growth and allow the body to develop its own defense mechanism. The elimination of bacteria from the intestine and pancreas slows the growth of cancer and "reprograms" the immune cells to react against them.
"Research into the impact of the microbiome on pancreatic cancer is a new area of particular interest because the pancreas was once considered a sterile organ," concludes Professor Thomas Seufferlein, a pancreatic cancer specialist.