Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
Pancreatic cancer begins in the cells of the pancreas – an organ in the abdomen that lies behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas has two main functions. It makes enzymes that help with digestion, and it makes hormones, such as insulin, that control how our bodies store and use glucose – sugar that is the body’s main source of energy.
There are two forms of pancreatic cancer: exocrine pancreatic cancer, which accounts for approximately 95 percent of all cases, and endocrine or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, also called islet cell tumors.
Smoking, being overweight, having diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and certain hereditary conditions are risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program estimates that there will be over 56,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. and some 45,750 deaths from these cancers in 2019. It is the third leading cause of cancer death in this country.
Moreover, pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. by 2030, behind lung cancer, according to data published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
What Is the AACR Doing in This Area?
In September 2019, the AACR presented its sixth conference on pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic Cancer: Advances in Science and Clinical Care showcased sessions on tumor heterogeneity, immunology, prevention and early detection, and novel treatment combinations.
In 2020, the AACR will present two conferences focused on pancreatic cancer: the Seventh JCA-AACR Special Joint Conference on the Latest Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research: From Basic Science to Therapeutics; and the AACR Special Conference on Pancreatic Cancer.
In 2019, the AACR granted several promising researchers awards for their work in the field of pancreatic cancer. The awardees were:
- Charles P. Hinzman, MS, Georgetown University Medical Center – AACR Scholar-in-Training Award
- Nikita S. Sharma, MS, University of Miami (FL) – AACR Scholar-in-Training Award
- Nirmish Singla, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center – AACR Scholar-in-Training Award
- Ronald F. Siebenaler, University of Michigan Medical School – AACR Margaret Foti Scholar-in-Training Award
- Annie A. Wu, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – AACR Margaret Foti Scholar-in-Training Award
- Kanchan Chakma, PhD, University of Chittagong (Bangladesh) – Global Scholar-in-Training Award
- Ozhan Ocal, PhD, Bilkent University (Turkey) – Global Scholar-in-Training Award
- Mohamed H. Osman, Zagazig University (Egypt) – Global Scholar-in-Training Award
- Guoliang Qiao, MD, PhD, Capital Medical University (China) – Global Scholar-in-Training Award
- Vincent Bernard, MS, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award
- Marimar De La Cruz Bonilla, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award
- Sarah Roth, MS, Georgetown University – AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award
- Malay Mody, University of Michigan – AACR Undergraduate Scholar Award
As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the AACR has provided scientific support, review, and oversight for “Dream Teams” of leading pancreatic cancer researchers. Teams were formed in 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2017. All four teams gather semi-annually to share their findings.