Dr. Anton Bilchik, Chief of General Surgery, Director of Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary Program and Research at Saint John’s Cancer Institute, Chronicles Pancreas Cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is a deadly malignancy with a 5-year survival rate of 11 percent.1 Which is to say, a very high mortality rate.

Pancreatic cancer has poorer outcomes because, by the time a person is diagnosed, the cancer has already advanced, and there currently is no screening test for the disease. Certain people are at higher risk for pancreatic cancer, especially those with a history of smoking, diabetes, and obesity. Anyone at a higher risk should discuss with their doctor their potential risk. According to Anton Bilchik, M.D., pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer related death in the US, and according to the International Journal of Oncology, pancreatic cancer is predicted to become the 3rd leading cancer-associated mortality by the year 2025.2 “The mortality rate (466,003) approximated to that of the morbidity rate (495,773) in 2020,” is still unfavorable, regardless of advancements in treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.2

Immunotherapies, even targeted therapies, may yield promising outcomes, but typically novel treatments exist within clinical trials. Immunotherapies use medication to boost a person’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Targeted therapies are molecular medications that target specific inhibitors to block the growth of cancer cells.

How to diagnose Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer can be found with a CT scan or MRI, which provides a detailed structural image of the organ. The diagnosis and staging of pancreatic cancer often involve endoscopic ultrasound, which can rule out pancreas cancer in some case.

Management [of pancreatic cancer] requires a multi-disciplinary team…It’s no specialty alone that helps cure pancreas cancer.

Anton Bilchik, MD

Listen to Dr. Anton Bilchik Account Pancreatic Cancer

Renowned gastrointestinal surgeon, Dr. Anton Bilchik, chronicles pancreas cancer, its challenges, risks, and treatment.


Types of Pancreatic Cancers

Most pancreatic cancers begin in the cells that line the ducts of the pancreas. This is called pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Less frequently, cancer can form in the hormone-producing cells or the neuroendocrine cells of the pancreas. These cancers are called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, or pancreatic endocrine cancer. Pancreas cancer can present as abdominal pain or becoming jaundiced (yellowing of the skin).

If you are at risk for pancreas cancer, please call the Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary Center of Excellence: 310-449-5206

Read more about pancreatic cancer here


  1. Role of N6‑methyladenosine in the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer (Review) – PubMed (nih.gov)
  2. WNT signaling in the tumor microenvironment promotes immunosuppression in murine pancreatic cancer – PMC (nih.gov)

About the Author

Eleanor Zeri