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Get The Facts About Pancreatic Cancer

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STUDIO CITY (CBS) — Agi Hirshberg, the President and Founder of the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, visited the KCAL 9 studios Thursday.

Hirshberg talked about the fight against pancreatic cancer and its ties to Steve Jobs’ death.

Pancreatic Cancer Facts
An estimated 44,030 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S., and over 37,660 will die from the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years.

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 94% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 6% will survive more than five years. 74% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.

The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months.

Few risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer are defined. Family history of the disease, smoking, age, and diabetes are risk factors.

Pancreatic cancer may cause only vague symptoms that could indicate many different conditions within the abdomen or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include pain (usually abdominal or back pain), weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and diabetes.

Symptoms include pain (usually abdominal or back pain), weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and diabetes.

Treatment options for pancreatic cancer are limited. Surgical removal of the tumor is possible in less than 20% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy or chemotherapy together with radiation is typically offered to patients whose tumors cannot be removed surgically. Only three drugs are FDA‐approved for the treatment of pancreatic cancer: fluorouracil (5‐FU), gemcitabine (Gemzar®), and erlotinib (Tarceva®).

Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death largely because there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when surgical removal of the tumor is still possible.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) spent an estimated $97.1 million on pancreatic cancer research in 2010. This represented a mere 2% of the NCI’s approximate $5 billion cancer research budget for that year.

Source for statistics: American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts & Figures 2011 and NCI Funded Research Portfolio.

For more information, visit the Hirshberg Foundation online.

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