MAYWOOD, IL. -- Fewer than 4 percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive as long as five years.
Actor Patrick Swayze, who died this week from the disease, survived less than two years.
"It is one of the deadliest cancers," said cancer surgeon Dr. Margaret Shoup, chief of surgical oncology at Loyola University Health System. "Usually by the time we identify the cancer, it is too late for surgery. We need much more research. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer does not get the kind of attention other cancers receive."
Shoup is conducting a clinical trial at Loyola on a cancer vaccine for pancreatic cancer patients. The vaccine, it's hoped, will stimulate a patient's immune system to generate antibodies to attack cancer cells.
Other experimental therapies include drugs that target specific proteins in tumors, Shoup said.