January marks the annual observance of National Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Month. The 5-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is just 6%. In the effort to highlight the urgent need to improve the survival rate for this disease, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is educating the public about clinical trials and the critical role they play in making scientific progress.
In particular for pancreatic cancer, with few effective treatment options for patients, clinical trials are an extremely important part of the research process as scientists seek new, better treatments that will ultimately increase survival. Studies have determined that both a lack of awareness and low prioritization of clinical trials by physicians and patients facing cancer contribute to the low enrollment rates.
Participation in Clinical Trials Essential to Progress
“Clinical trials are the way to make progress towards better treatments - participation today will shape the treatment landscape for the future,” says Julie Fleshman, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “In addition to being treated with new and innovative therapies, patients will be making a contribution to science by helping researchers learn more about the disease and help improve cancer care.”
In 2013, nearly 45,000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and more than 38,000 died from the disease. A recent analysis reveals that pancreatic cancer is projected to move from the fourth to the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States by the year 2020.
“It is also essential for patients to know, that in all pancreatic cancer trials, patients always receive either the best standard treatment or the treatment being evaluated in the trial,” adds Ms. Fleshman. “Thanks to clinical trial research and participation, significant advancements in the field of pancreatic cancer have been made. However, much still lies ahead.”
To bring attention to the need for clinical trials and to increase enrollment, the organization’s Patient and Liaison Services (PALS) program educates patients and caregivers about their options and the value of clinical trials. The program also conducts personalized searches using the organization’s comprehensive, proprietary clinical trials database to determine potential eligibility. This database is the nation’s leading resource for pancreatic cancer clinical trials.
To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the PALS program and clinical trials, visit www.pancan.org/pals.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. ■