November is Stomach Cancer and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. These cancers are often called the silent killers. They are difficult to detect and survival rates are tragically low. But more than 6,500 Australians will be diagnosed with one of these diseases this year.
In Australia, it’s estimated that 2,392 people will be diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021. Worldwide, stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer type and the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths.
Stomach cancer is swift, fatal and the five-year survival rate is tragically low at only 33.5%. This disease affects twice as many men as women, and the early symptoms, such as bloating, nausea, tiredness or heartburn, can be subtle and easy to ignore.
The impact of stomach cancer: Gill, Nadia & Trine’s stories
Stomach cancer has robbed Trine Kirkegaard Simpson, Nadia De Giuseppe and Gillian Worden of the men they love. In this video they explain their losses and the impact of stomach cancer on their families.
Our Stomach Cancer Research
The GI Cancer Institute’s INTEGRATE IIb is currently running, while the TOPGEAR trial moved into analysis phase in June this year. Both have the potential to offer new treatments to people with stomach cancer:
- INTEGRATE II/IIb: The purpose of INTEGRATE II is to determine whether a treatment called regorafenib improves overall survival for people with advanced gastro-oesophageal cancer. INTEGRATE IIb will determine whether a combination of regorafenib and the immunotherapy treatment nivolumab is more effective than standard chemotherapy for these patients.
- TOPGEAR: The purpose of TOPGEAR is to investigate whether the addition of chemoradiotherapy treatment to chemotherapy will be better than chemotherapy alone as a treatment for people with stomach cancer before they undergo surgery.
Pancreatic cancer is the third most common cause of cancer related deaths in Australia, after lung and colorectal cancers. It is predicted to be one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths by 2030.
Only 1 in 10 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive beyond 5 years. For most people who are diagnosed life expectancy is 6-12 months, although often they can only have a few months. It is estimated in 2021 that 4,261 Australians will die as a result of this disease.
Early detection and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is difficult as there is a lack of characteristic symptoms during early stages of the disease. However, there are signs that can emerge as the disease progresses to affect other organs.
Remembering four women lost to pancreatic cancer
Frank, Tony, Daniel and Mark share their experiences of losing their wives Caroline, Mee-Na, Lyn and Rochelle to pancreatic cancer, which has a survival rate of just 11.5%.
Our Pancreatic Cancer Research
The GI Cancer Institute is currently conducting three studies into pancreatic cancer treatment:
- DYNAMIC-Pancreas is investigating circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) analysis. It aims to demonstrate that monitoring ctDNA levels in the bloodstream and using them to inform treatment for people with pancreatic cancer could reduce cancer recurrence.
- MASTERPLAN aims to investigate whether a highly targeted form of radiotherapy, stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) in addition to chemotherapy is a better treatment than chemotherapy alone for people with pancreatic cancer.
- RANDOMS is a nutritional substudy of the MASTERPLAN clinical trial, and will discover critical information on how to measure the impact of nutrition on survival outcomes for patients. It will examine whether a fast and simple nutritional test called PGSGA can match the results provided by a complex and expensive CT body composition scan for pancreatic cancer patients.
You can change the odds
Any donation, no matter what size, will help us to conduct clinical trials that lead to better health outcomes for people diagnosed with pancreatic and stomach cancer. 100% of your donation will go towards research, and you can select the cancer type your gift will go towards.