While advances in research and treatments for other types of cancer are leading to decreased death rates, the lack of significant progress in the prevention and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, as well as the inadequacy of investment in research and access to new therapies for the disease, has led to an increase in death rates related to pancreatic cancer.
The numbers are grim: the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is less than seven percent, among the lowest for any type of cancer. Funding for research remains low, about two percent, and access to treatment is a challenge.
A recent survey of 100 oncologists in the U.K. commissioned by Celgene U.K. and Ireland and supported by Pancreatic Cancer Action, showed 74 percent of oncologists think access to innovations and access to medicines for advanced cancers has become increasingly difficult over the past five years; 66 percent of those oncologists felt not disclosing all treatment options to advanced cancer patients might be the best course of action.
“Access to available treatment options is a significant barrier in many countries to improving patients’ survival," Rich Bagger, senior vice president of corporate affairs and market access for Celgene, said. "It’s essential for patients and their families to have access to the treatment and supportive care they need to fight this terrible disease.”
Oncologists agree that more needs to be done to level the playing field and make more research funding, screening and diagnosis efforts available for pancreatic cancer. Celgene is committed to addressing these issues.
“Since I began advocating for patients years ago, I’ve seen the impact that disease awareness and an activated health care ecosystem can bring towards improving survival rates," Joel Beetsch, vice president of patient advocacy at Celgene, said. "Look at breast cancer, for example -- early on, public awareness led to improved early detection, a greater focus on research funding and consequently novel treatment options.”
Celgene was instrumental in creating the first-ever World Pancreatic Cancer Day (WPCD) to bring greater awareness and change for pancreatic cancer patients. They are also conducting three global studies in pancreatic cancer in all stages of the disease and supporting more than 50 researcher-led studies in early stage and locally advanced disease.
"Once we all stand in unison against this deadly disease, that’s when the battle will really begin,” Beetsch said.
Celgene Corporation is a global integrated biopharmaceutical company primarily engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative therapies.