The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2023 report revealed a 1% increase in five-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer, which increased from 11% to 12%. Released in early 2023, the report represented the first instance since 2017 that five-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer increased for two years in a row.
It indicates that we are making slow but steady progress against pancreatic cancer, a hard-to-treat cancer that originates in the pancreas before spreading to other organs and tissues. In many cases, pancreatic cancer spreads to the lungs, abdominal walls, lymph nodes and bones, resulting in symptoms such as intense belly pain, appetite and weight loss, and jaundice.
More than 175 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each day, and more than 64,000 Americans will receive pancreatic cancer diagnoses this year.
Although a 1-percentage point may seem inconsequential, it means that 641 more people will spend five years with their loved ones after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The disease is currently the 10th most common type of cancer in the country and is poised to become the second-largest cause of cancer deaths before the end of the decade.
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) President and CEO Julie Fleshman called the improvement in fie-year survival rates a milestone and proof that biotech developers working on pancreatic cancer treatments are on the right path. Companies such as BioNTech SE, Myriad Genetics, Seagen Inc., Illumina Inc. and Oncylotics Biotech Inc. have poured millions of dollars into researching pancreatic cancer and developing more effective treatments.
PanCan CEO Julie Fleshman says the goal is to increase five-year survival rates to 20% by 2030 and notes that with support from its advocacy work, research, patient services team, dedicated volunteers and “generous donors,” PanCan will do everything possible to attain this goal.
She explained that the low 12% five-year survival rate means pancreatic cancer patients don’t have the time to wait for novel treatments. This need for accelerated research partly resulted in the launch of the Precision Promise platform trial to identify, accelerate, and de-risk pancreatic treatment development.
Oncylotics Biotech was recently selected to join PanCAN’s Phase 3 Precision Promise platform trial. The study is meant to evaluate the efficacy of combining chemotherapeutic agents and a checkpoint inhibitor with pelareorep, an intravenous immunotherapy agent used to treat hematological malignancies and solid tumors.
If the trial delivers promising results, it could pave the way for the approval of the combination as a first-line metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) treatment.
Other enterprises such as Renovaro BioSciences Inc. (NASDAQ: RENB) are also engaged in developing better treatments for pancreatic cancer, so the future could see a number of superior alternatives to the existing treatment protocols.
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