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 there will be an estimated 62,210 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. and some 49,830 deaths from these cancers in 2022. 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 The Area of Pancreatic Cancer Research?

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

  • Edwin R. Manuel, PhD, at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in California, is focusing on curtailing processes that contribute to therapeutic resistance in pancreatic cancer. He was awarded the Lustgarten Foundation-AACR Pancreatic Cancer Career Development Award, in Honor of John R. Lewis, to study attenuated, tumor-targeting Salmonella Typhimurium (ST) vectors to curtail desmoplasia (the growth of fibrous tissue around the tumor) and micropinocytosis (which allows cancer cells to obtain nutrients).
  • Pingping Hou, PhD, at Rutgers University-Newark, is exploring tumor-associated macrophages that promote resistance to KRAS inhibitors in pancreatic cancer.  She received the Lustgarten Foundation-AACR Pancreatic Cancer Career Development Award, In Honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to support this work. 
  • The AACR has sponsored a series of special conferences on pancreatic cancer, the most recent one of which was held virtually in September 2022. These conferences are showcases for the latest research and developments in basic, translational, and clinical research. 
  • Also, in July 2022, the AACR and the Japanese Cancer Association help the Seventh AACR-JCA Joint Conference on the Latest Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research in Kyoto, Japan.
  • In 2021, the AACR  awarded grants to several promising researchers for their work in pancreatic cancer. 
  • 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 to address specific questions in pancreatic cancer research and treatment.