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Pancreatic cancer

Usually originating in the pancreatic ducts, this disease is the third-highest cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia

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Located behind the lower part of the stomach, the pancreas secretes enzymes to help digestion, and hormones to help metabolise sugars. Because the pancreas is located deep within the abdomen, pancreatic cancer is often only detected when it has reached an advanced stage, making effective treatment more difficult and increasing the likelihood of it spreading to other parts of the body, called metastasis.

Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in the pancreas develop mutations in their DNA, causing them to grow unchecked and form tumours. In around 85% of cases, these tumours originate in the part of the pancreas that produces digestive enzymes. This form of cancer is known as ‘pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma’ and is typically aggressive.

While pancreatic cancer accounts for just 2.8% of all cancers in Australia, the number of patients diagnosed with this disease is increasing. By 2030, it is predicted to become the second most prevalent cancer in Australia. Sadly, the 12-month survival rate following a diagnosis is just three in every 10 patients. Researchers at Garvan are working to improve methods of detection, diagnosis, and treatment, to provide patients with better and more effective healthcare.

For more information about pancreatic cancer, visit APGI.

Pancreatic cancer research at Garvan

Garvan’s pancreatic cancer research is diverse, focusing on translating scientific discoveries into the clinic. Our researchers are working to define the genetic characteristics of pancreatic cancer, developing biomarker prognosis and therapeutic responsiveness, and understanding the molecular mechanisms of resistance in order to develop new treatment strategies.