There are few cancers that are as tough to beat as pancreatic cancer. When it is found, the disease has usually spread, and only about 20 percent of newly-diagnosed patients are eligible for surgery.
But if there is ever a time when there are high hopes for new ways to detect and treat it, the time is now. Scientists at Johns Hopkins decoded the pancreatic cancer genome, revealing more clues to how the disease develops and spreads. These same scientists sequenced the genomes of patients with pancreatic cancer and uncovered a new genetic link to one patient's cancer, setting the stage for developing ways to personalize pancreatic cancer therapies. More recently, these scientists found that the time it takes for a pancreatic cancer to develop, grow and spread is far longer than previously thought -- around 10-20 years -- providing a window of opportunity to catch these cancers earlier and intervene with life-saving treatments.
It was this discovery of the timeline of pancreatic cancer that was mentioned at the beginning of a recent episode of the Dr. Oz Show. Wednesday's program featured a discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, who is working with Dr. Daniel Laheru and other colleagues at Johns Hopkins, to develop a new treatment for pancreatic cancer that uses the body's immune system to attack the disease. With new evidence about the genetics of pancreatic cancer and rapid improvements in medical and scientific technology, these dedicated clinicians and scientists are working harder than ever to make an impact in this relentless disease.