The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

What's New


2020 Cancer Statistics Released

The American Cancer Society just published, in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the latest cancer statistics in the United States. The authors report that "In 2020, 1,806,590 new cancer cases and 606,520 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States. The cancer death rate rose until 1991, then fell continuously through 2017, resulting in an overall decline of 29% that translates into an estimated 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths than would have occurred if peak rates had persisted."

The authors estimate that in 2020 approximately 57,600 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 47,050 will die from pancreatic cancer. In a hopeful sign, the five-year relative survival rate for patients with pancreatic cancer is 9%, better, but still way too low!

The report highlights the importance of smoking cessation, weight control and early detection in reducing cancer deaths. For patients with pancreatic cancer, the study highlights the importance of early detection. Patients with localized disease had a 37% five-year survival, patients with regional disease a five-year survival rate of 12% and patients with distant disease a five-year survival rate of only 3%.

We should all be encouraged by the many lives saved with the remarkable decline in overall cancer rates. The study does, however, painfully highlight the work that needs to be done fighting pancreatic cancer. New approaches to early detection, and new therapies are sorely needed.

- January 2020



Two recently published papers highlight the risk of recurrence after the surgical resection of an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas

Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) of the pancreas are non-invasive precancerous lesions, some of which, over time progress to invasive pancreatic cancer. If an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas is removed, it will not progress to invasive cancer. Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas therefore represent an opportunity to cure a pancreas tumor, before it becomes cancer.

While removing an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas prevents the lesion that was removed from progressing to pancreas, the remnant (remaining) pancreas remains at risk. Just as patients who have had a colon polyp removed need to be more carefully monitored for more colon tumors, so do the patients who have had an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas surgically resected need to be monitored for additional pancreas tumors.

Two papers that were just published help answer important questions in the post-operative monitoring of these patients.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30413822
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31463655

First, what is the magnitude of the risk of recurrence after the surgical resection of an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas? The reported risk varies, but these two papers, combined with several previously published papers, suggest that the risk of getting a new significant lesion in the remnant pancreas in the five years after surgery is in the range of 5-15%. Patients who had an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas with "high-grade dysplasia" resected have a higher risk than do patients who had an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas with "low-grade dysplasia" resected.

Second, does the risk ever go down to zero, or do we have to monitor patients indefinitely? Both studies suggest that the risk persists. One cannot identify a certain number of years after surgery where it is safe to stop monitoring. In fact, both studies show that the risk persists well beyond five years after surgery. Why is this important? These studies reinforce a growing body of literature that emphasize the importance of monitoring patients who have had an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas resected. They also show that this monitoring should, when clinically indicated, be indefinite.

For more information, visit: http://pathology.jhu.edu/pancreas/cyst/index.php

- January 2020