November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month


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 66,440 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. in 2024 and approximately 51,750 deaths will occur. Pancreatic cancer 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).   

An Expert’s View

Pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival ratio of only 12.8 percent. What makes it so lethal? An expert explains: Giving Voice to Pancreatic Cancer Patients.

what’s new in pancreatic cancer research

Research recently published in an AACR journal casts new light on pancreatic cancer. Read about it on Cancer Research Catalyst, the AACR blog: “Parallel Approaches Reveal the Microenvironment’s Role in Pancreatic Cancer Onset and Spread.”

What the AACR is Doing in Pancreatic Cancer Research

Major Conference

The AACR held a Special Conference on Pancreatic Cancer in Boston in September 2023 to address the latest developments in pancreatic cancer research, spanning basic, translational and clinical research areas.

The AACR’s blog, Cancer Research Catalyst, carried a report on the 2023 conference, with news on the latest developments in research on pancreatic cancer. Read the blog here: Pancreatic Cancer: Keynote Highlights Trainees, Rising Stars, and Distinguished Professors.

A similar session is scheduled for September 2024.

Supporting Research

Pancreatic cancer is an important area of research for the AACR and its partners. Grant-supported research projects announced in 2023 and other AACR initiatives in this area include:

  • Lustgarten Foundation-AACR Career Development Award for Pancreatic Cancer Research, in Honor of John R. Lewis, to Christina M. Ferrer, PhD, assistant professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore, for a study of “Metastasis-Initiating Cells in Pancreatic Cancer.”            
  • Lustgarten Foundation-AACR Career Development Award for Pancreatic Cancer Research, in Honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to Ashley Kiemen, PhD, assistant professor, Johns Hopkins University, for a project entitled, “3D Morphological Analysis of Human Pancreatic Cancer Liver Metastases.” 
  • Lustgarten Foundation-Swim Across America-AACR Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Research Grant to Ajay Goel, PhD, AGAF, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics at City of Hope, Duarte, California, for a study of “A Circulating Epigenetic Signature for Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer.”
  • Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers Rising Innovator Research Grant, in Partnership with Pelotonia & AACR, to Joyce Liu, MD, associate chief and director of clinical research, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Dana-Farner Cancer Institute, Boston, for a study of “Targeting Wee1 and ATR in high-grade/p53-mutated endometrial cancer.”
  • AACR’s activities are international in scope. In July 2022, the AACR and the Japanese Cancer Association held the Seventh AACR-JCA Joint Conference on the Latest Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research in Kyoto, Japan.


For more information, please see our page on Pancreatic Cancer, which includes information on treatment and the different types of the disease,