Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cell Research
U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists are studying stem cells in pancreatic cancer, looking for new and more effective treatments for patients with this deadly diseasePancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest types of cancer. It is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. More than 43,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year and about the same number die each year from the disease. Only about 3% of people with pancreatic cancer live more than five years after diagnosis.
There are several reasons why this type of cancer is so lethal
- Pancreatic cancer is agressive
Not only is it much more aggressive than other types of cancer, it's also quicker to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
- It usually is not diagnosed until it's in an advanced stage.
- Unlike other types of cancer, pancreatic cancer responds very poorly to current chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Scientists at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center are studying pancreatic cancer in an effort to find new and more effective treatments for patients with this deadly disease. In 2007, Cancer Center scientists were the first to identify a small group of cells, called cancer stem cells, in tumors from patients with pancreatic cancer. Researchers believe these stem cells are the key to finding an effective treatment and possibly someday a cure for pancreatic cancer.
U-M research shows that just a few cancer stem cells are responsible for the growth and spread of pancreatic cancer. Unless these stem cells are destroyed, the cancer will return. The goal of U-M scientists is to develop a new therapy targeted directly at cancer stem cells. If successful, it will be a major step forward in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.