California-based Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is urging patients with the disease to consider enrolling in clinical trial as early as when they are first diagnosed. According to the charitable organization, participation in clinical trials leads to better outcomes among pancreatic cancer patients, so research studies should be considered when treatment decisions are being made.
It’s estimated that 71 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer live less than one year after receiving their diagnosis. The five-year survival rate for this cancer type is just nine percent, and these statistics have remained consistent in recent years, according to the American Cancer Society.
The low survival rate for pancreatic cancer is due, in part, to difficulties in diagnosing the disease in its early stages, and the lack of treatment options. This makes clinical trial participation particularly important for patients, who get the chance to try new, potentially effective treatment options, while playing a vital role in the development of these therapies.
“My diagnosis was at the cusp of stage I and stage II, giving me about a 30 percent chance of survival for five years,” said Richard Blish, an eight-year pancreatic cancer survivor. “However, my clinical trial (chemotherapy before Whipple surgery) which I participated in shrank my tumor by about 50 percent, allowing me to undergo a successful Whipple procedure, which improved my odds for survival several-fold.”
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network helps patients find clinical trials for which they may be eligible to participate, as well as answer any questions about the research process or the disease itself.
“Patients who enroll in clinical trials at any stage in their diagnosis are not only helping themselves, but furthering advances in treatments needed to help countless others,” said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of PanCAN. “We maintain the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of pancreatic cancer clinical trials available in the US, which we use to help patients and healthcare professionals get the best information to inform treatment decisions.”
As of this writing, there were 292 studies in the US currently recruiting patients, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.