4 november, 2016

On a mission to advance pancreatic cancer awareness

Pancreatic cancers are one of the most deadly cancers. The cancers are often diagnosed late, making them one of the most hard-to-treat cancers. To create awareness on the aggressive diseases and stir a political discussion for better care, the Medicon Village based company Immunovia is taking the lead on organizing an event at Medicon Village. In a joint effort with other Medicon Village based organizations and national pancreatic cancer patient support organizations, they organize the World Pancreatic Cancer Day on 17 November.

– The aim of the World Pancreatic Cancer Day is to create awareness around the globe. That is the single most important thing – to raise the public’s knowledge and the political understanding of this lethal disease, says Laura Chirica, chief commercial officer at Immunovia.

Sadly, pancreatic cancer death rates are increasing, so new treatments and better ways to diagnose are badly needed.

– Treatments for pancreatic cancers are grim. With few treatment options, survival rates have barely changed in three decades. Merely 2–10 percent of the patients will be alive five years after diagnosis. Patients generally get medications targeting the immune system and very quickly develop resistance to the treatment or don´t respond at all, Laura Chirica emphasises.

For many tumours, cancer surgery is the best chance for a cure, especially if the cancer is localized and has not spread. But, pancreatic tumours cause plain symptoms and are often found only after they have spread throughout the body. Patients are given just months to live after diagnosis, and only 18 percent of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer are alive one year after diagnosis. The poor recovery rates highlight the dearth of treatment options and precise diagnosis.

– Poor performance of therapeutic agents, even in the initial stage of invasive cases, emphasizes the importance of early detection of pancreatic cancers for improved survival, Laura Chirica explains.

Joint forces on the horizon on World Pancreatic Cancer Day

World Pancreatic Cancer Day is organized worldwide. The event at Medicon Village draws on a range of competencies from patient organizations along with health care and research from the Medicon Village based actors within pancreatic cancers.

Immunovia, a Medicon Village based company, has a game changing antibody detecting technology to spot cancer early. They invited the other Medicon Village actors in the field to pitch in with their view by speaking at the event. These actors are Cantargia, Clinical Laserthermia Systems, CREATE Health and Cancerkompisar.

– What needs to be done for pancreatic cancers not to be a death sentence? How can we find the pancreatic cancer patients well in time for them to have surgery and therapy? They are always found in the advanced stages of cancer. And that is all too late. High risk surveillance is an option and we have invited politicians to become aware of the options. We would like the politicians to discuss the high risk surveillance benefits of breast cancer or prostate cancer to get things into perspective, explains Laura Chirica.

Discussions on a political level are already ongoing in the USA. Patient support organizations are driving the discussion in an effort to double the five year survival rate.

– That is an extremely difficult target. To be able to reach this goal, early diagnosis in asymptomatic stages and improved therapy are the only solutions, Laura Chirica points out.

The possibility of increasing survival by early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer will give great hope to hundreds of patients and their families who may benefit.

By: Tanja Jensen, science writer, Medicon Village Lund, Sweden

World Pancreatic Cancer Day on 17 November

Immunovia organizes the event at Medicon Village together with the Swedish cancer organization PALEMA and a Danish network, Pancreasnetværket. Cantargia, Clinical Laserthermia Systems, Cancerkompisar, CREATE Health and Medicon Village are co-organizers.

Find more information and register for the World Pancreatic Cancer Day in Lund

Last day to register is 11 November.

Five facts on pancreatic cancers

-The pancreas plays an important role to convert the food we eat to fuel. Its two main functions is to help in digestion and to regulate blood sugar, by for example releasing enzymes and the hormones glucagon or insulin.

-About 375 000 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed worldwide in 2016.

-Complete surgical removal of the tumour is the only cure.

-Less than 10% of all diagnosed cases can undergo surgery to completely remove the tumour(s). About 60-80 percent of all patients with pancreatic cancer are inoperable.

-The average lifetime risk of pancreatic cancers for both men and women is about 1 in 65 (1.5 %). Each person’s chances of getting pancreatic cancers can be affected by certain risk factors, such as diabetes.


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