Changing the Landscape of Pancreatic Cancer

From raising awareness and advancing research to ensuring access to treatments

Every year, more than 350,000 people around the world are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That’s nearly enough people to fill six football stadiums.  While it is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths, it is estimated to surpass breast and colorectal cancer deaths by 2030 in some major countries.

While overall cancer prevalence and death rates are decreasing — thanks to advancements in diagnosis, research and treatments, — rates are actually increasing for pancreatic cancer due in part to a lack of significant progress in prevention, diagnosis, investment in research and access to new therapies.  In fact, the five year survival rates globally for pancreatic cancer are less than 7 percent and are among the lowest for any cancer.

While faced with these troubling statistics, research funding remains significantly low (approximately 2%) and access to treatment options remain challenging.  Read our story on how higher spending on cancer care can lower cancer mortality rates – .

Access to medicines for advanced cancers is increasingly becoming a challenge in some countries. A recent survey of 100 oncologists in the UK, that was commissioned by Celgene UK and Ireland and supported by Pancreatic Cancer Action, shows that 74% of oncologists feel that access to novel medicines for advanced cancers has become increasingly challenging in the last 5 years. In addition, 66% of these oncologists have deemed not disclosing all treatment options to advanced cancer patients the best course of action.

Rich Bagger, SVP, Corporate Affairs & Market Access for Celgene says that “Access to available treatment options is a significant barrier in many countries to improving patients’ survival. It’s essential for patients and their families to have access to the treatment and supportive care they need to fight this terrible disease.”

In addition to improving access to available therapies, real change needs to be made to alter the landscape of pancreatic cancer; more needs to be done to address the inequalities in research funding, screening and diagnosis efforts.  Celgene is working alongside the international pancreatic cancer patient advocacy community in a variety of ways to help address these issues.

“Since I began advocating for patients years ago, I’ve seen the impact that disease awareness and an activated healthcare ecosystem can bring towards improving survival rates. 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,” said Joel Beetsch, Vice President of Patient Advocacy at Celgene.

In an effort to do just that, last year, Celgene helped create the first-ever World Pancreatic Cancer Day (WPCD); this year, Celgene is continuing its support of World Pancreatic Cancer Day to bring greater awareness and change the paradigm for pancreatic cancer patients.

Celgene is committed to transforming outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer by pursuing the science to discover, develop and commercialize additional therapies. Today, Celgene is conducting three global studies in pancreatic cancer in all stages of the disease in addition to supporting more than 50 researcher-led studies in early stage and locally advanced disease. There are also more than 55 clinical trials underway in pancreatic cancer that combine Celgene products with more than 35 novel compounds.  These trials represent 19 new mechanistic drug classes.  It is Celgene’s hope that this commitment will bring hope and cures to patients and families who are fighting pancreatic cancer.

Watch our video to learn more about our commitment:

To spur change in Europe, Celgene supported the creation of Pancreatic Cancer Europe , European Multi-Stakeholder platform on Pancreatic Cancer in November 2014.  It is composed of European experts, academics, patients, clinical practitioners and policymakers who are committed to raising awareness around pancreatic cancer and are looking to improve care across Europe.

As death rates for pancreatic cancer continue to increase in the United States and Europe, there is still little publicity around this deadly disease. “Once we all stand in unison against this deadly disease, that’s when the battle will really begin,” added Beetsch.

Here are a few ways to join in the fight against pancreatic cancer: