The 5-year survival rate for patients with pancreatic cancer is about 9 percent, at least in part because the disease has typically spread to other organs by the time it is diagnosed. The Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Center, part of NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, brings together clinicians, researchers, and patients with the goal of increasing the 5-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer to 50 percent within the next 10 years.
There are currently 15 genes known to be associated with the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. About 13 percent of pancreatic cancer patients have a germline mutation that increases pancreatic cancer risk, even in the absence of a positive family history. Diane M. Simeone, MD, director of Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Pancreatic Cancer Center, partnered with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to implement a new guideline that calls for all patients with pancreatic cancer to receive germline testing.
“We are now learning that certain germline mutations are associated with much better therapeutic responses to certain types of drugs than others, so this information can be of direct benefit to our pancreatic cancer patients,” says Dr. Simeone, who is the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Surgery and professor of pathology. “We want to increase identification of family members who are at increased risk, so that they can be enrolled in early detection programs.” The Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Center currently follows more than 250 patients at high risk for pancreatic cancer with annual imaging. Studies have found that screening in high-risk individuals increases the chance of detecting a resectable lesion from 15 to 90 percent.
Under the direction of Dr. Simeone and her team, NYU Langone serves as the coordinating center for the newly formed PRECEDE (Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection) Consortium, a collaborative of 35 academic centers around the country and world focused on early detection in familial high-risk individuals. With founding support from Project Purple, the consortium has established a shared data platform that will open for use early this year. The PRECEDE Consortium expects to enroll more than 3,000 high-risk individuals with standardized collection of data and biosamples to drive critical early detection research in a variety of areas including biomarker validation, comprehensive risk modeling, and risk communication.
To help patients determine their risk of developing pancreatic cancer, the Pancreatic Cancer Center, in partnership with the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, has developed a pancreatic cancer risk assessment tool. If the tool suggests that someone has certain risk factors, they can be put in touch with a genetic counselor and pancreatic cancer specialists at Perlmutter Cancer Center.
“In order to meet the goal of increasing the five-year survival rate, we really need to move the needle in the early detection of pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Simeone says.