Pancreatic cancer has proven to be one of the most challenging cancers to detect and treat. Without effective screening tests, patients are usually diagnosed at an advanced stage when therapies have limited effect. The biological complexity of pancreatic tumors is an added challenge, enabling these tumors to adapt and grow despite intense therapy.
Still, even with this hard-to-treat cancer, important gains have occurred in the last 40 years, thanks in large part to the thousands of patients who have participated in clinical trials. The trials have shown that some drug therapies can control the cancer and improve survival, even for patients with advanced stages of disease.
Today, researchers are using knowledge from the recent mapping of the pancreatic cancer genome to develop therapies that target not one but many genetic abnormalities in pancreatic cancer cells.