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.

Comments (12)
  1. Good Days from CDF says:

    Here at Good Days from Chronic Disease Fund, our heart goes out to all of those fighting pancreatic cancer. We know that it is a tough battle and often does not hold a good outcome. As an organization, we offer financial assistance to patients that cannot afford the medication they desperately need. For more information about us or to learn how to get involved, visit our website!

  2. Hedy Bandy says:

    Thank goodness for people like Agi Hirshberg. After a tragic personal loss, she created the Hirshberg Foundation at UCLA to find a cure for pancreatic cancer. We can all help by participating on October 30th in Los Angeles. Go to and join us to help find a cure.

  3. Loretta says:

    Why is it that only 2% of NCI’s cancer research budget was spent on pancreatic cancer research? If pancreatic cancer is the leading cause for cancer deaths, and early detection is crucial and difficult to attain, shouldn’t more of the budget be allotted to pancreatic cancer research?

  4. Michael says:

    I am a stage 4 pancreatic cancer patient who recently celebrated one year since diagnosis. The passing of Steve Jobs, only one year my senior, was a tough one to take, but so far I am in (relative) good health, still work full time, and enjoy as much time with my wife, kids, and grandkids as possible. God bless those working on early diagnosis and a cure, but you would think with our high mortality rate, more would be spent on these endeavors.

  5. JSA says:

    There was actually a third hero lost this week to this dreadful disease- my dad. He was diagnosed last year and was a candidate for the surgery. We were so hopeful that after the surgery he had a good chance of beating the disease. He endured 6 months of chemo and weeks of radiation, but recurred shortly after. A cure needs to be found for this disease.

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