The pace of pancreatic cancer growth may be slower than the medical community has assumed. A recent collaborative study by cancer researchers at the Johns Hopkins University and Sanger Institute examined tissue from pancreatic cancer patients and found that cells in the pancreas took at least ten years to mutate enough to produce cancer cells and seven more years to develop enough to become capable of spreading to other organs.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2010 there will be more than 36,000 deaths from pancreatic cancer and more than 43,000 new cases in the United States. Compared with other cancers, the length of survival after pancreatic cancer diagnosis is unfavorable, with only 6% of patients surviving for five years or more after diagnosis. Based on the new understanding of the progression of this disease, it is plausible that screening could increase chances of survival for pancreatic cancer patients. With early detection, precancerous cells could be removed before tumors have time to develop. For more information about this promising study, click here.