Canary’s pancreatic cancer research program is focused on developing diagnostics with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity to detect lethal pancreatic cancers at an early stage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, pancreatic cancer is a “top ten” cancer killer, causing over 259,000 deaths per year worldwide, and in the United States, it is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US, and accounts for about 7% of cancer deaths (American Cancer Society).
A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer often carries a poor prognosis because patients are asymptomatic until advanced stages. The vast majority of cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed when cancer has spread to adjacent tissues or widely beyond the site of origin. Consequently, the likelihood of a cure through surgical removal is extremely low. As with many other lethal cancers, early detection of pancreatic cancer promises to save many lives, as chances of survival are greatest when cancer is diagnosed at a stage when it is still confined to the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer is commonly diagnosed in its later stages, leaving patients at the point where they are no longer surgical candidates. Dr. Dawson is involved in developing ways to diagnose this type of disease earlier through pathological testing.