Importance of Early Detection in Pancreatic Cancer Care

Katherine Poruk, MD, discusses upcoming surgical advances being made the field of pancreatic cancer.

Katherine Poruk, MD, a surgical oncologist with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, discusses upcoming surgical advances being made the field of pancreatic cancer.

According to Poruk, the most important thing for the treatment of pancreatic cancer is early detection. One reason for poor survival is that vague symptoms such as weight loss and abdominal or back pain can cause tumors to go unnoticed for several months. This leads to a large tumor size, making it unresectable. Additionally, in some cases, the tumor has metastasized and spread to other organs.

Additionally, more research has been performed pertaining to understanding the genomic profile of each patient’s individual tumor in order to improve target therapies and individualize care, according to Poruk.

0:08 | The most important thing when it comes to pancreatic cancer is being able to find a way to screen for it and detect earlier. One of the main limitations and why there's such a poor survival with this disease is that most people present with very vague symptoms like weight loss, abdominal pain, and back pain. And so, it can go several months before someone is diagnosed. Because of that, a lot of people present with these large tumors that are unresectable or have metastasized to other organs. So, I think a very big need in this disease is identifying patients with early disease when they're still a surgical candidate.

0: 44 | Also, there's been a lot of work recently and will be more work in the future to better understand the genomic profile of everyone’s tumor, so that we can start to do more targeted therapies and individualize care. What we're learning is that between gemcitabine and FOLFIRINOX, some patients will respond to 1 and not the other. So those are some important things, I think that we need in the future and that hopefully, we'll be making some more advances within the next 10 years.