Stand Up 2 Cancer

Facts and Information About Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at Penn Medicine

As a leading cause of cancer death in the United States, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is cancer that develops within the pancreas, the gland about six inches long that is responsible for making hormones, including the enzymes responsible for the digestion of food and control of blood sugar.

Pancreatic cancer develops when cells within the pancreas begin to grow out of control and form a pancreatic mass. It may spread, or metastasize, to nearby lymph nodes and organs such as the liver and lungs.

Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis

Pancreatic cancer survival rates are poor as more than 90 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first year of diagnosis. Recent advancements in pancreatic cancer research have had little impact patients' pancreatic cancer prognosis, and new pancreatic cancer treatments are desperately needed.

It's estimated that more than 39,000 people died from pancreatic cancer last year, and another 46,000 will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.

What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking, having diabetes, being obese, being over the age of 65, having chronic inflammation of the pancreas, or a family history of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at Penn Medicine

At Penn, patients with pancreatic cancer are treated by a multidisciplinary team of specialists who see more patients with gastrointestinal cancers in one year than many doctors see in their careers.

This experience combined with the latest pancreatic cancer research and technology gives patients better chances for positive outcomes.


  • Penn's pancreatic cancer team is nationally recognized for its specialized techniques in treating pancreatic cancer, and is part of the multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists at the Abramson Cancer Center.
  • Pancreas surgery is technically difficult, and surgeons at Penn Medicine perform the highest volume of pancreatic procedures, including the Whipple surgery (procedure), in the Philadelphia region, and are among the top 10 in the United States.
  • Penn has unique expertise to transform pancreatic cancer research and clinical care because it is one of the highest volume cancer centers in the nation and brings together the expertise of a team of clinicians and researchers from various disciplines — all dedicated to the research and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
  • There are currently multiple active clinical trials for pancreatic cancer at Penn, two of which are related to the Stand Up 2 Cancer effort. Penn and its fellow pancreatic cancer dream team sites have recruited more than 1,000 patients for these studies thus far, while only a few thousand patients enroll in pancreatic cancer clinical trials in the Unites States every year.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer, pancreatic cancer treatment at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, and how to enroll in clinical trials for pancreatic cancer.