PanCAM - Pancreatic Cancer Aetiology & Management

Related staff: 
Mr Damian O'Driscoll (former staff)
Ms Mairead Fitzgerald (former staff)
Mr John O'Neill (former staff)
Mr Eamonn O'Leary (former staff)
Prof Linda Sharp (former staff)
Collaborators & co-investigators: 
Prof Kevin Conlon, Adelaide & Meath Hospital
Dr Nuria Malats, CNIO - Spanish National Cancer Research Centre
Dr Roger Milne, CNIO - Spanish National Cancer Research Centre
Prof Liam Murray, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr Michael O’Rorke, Queen’s University Belfast
Funding source: 
Health Research Board
European Commission
Ulster Cancer Foundation

Each year 500 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on the island of Ireland, and there are around the same number of deaths from the disease. Since incidence and mortality increase with age, the number of cases will rise in the future with population ageing and increased life expectancy. The aetiology of pancreatic cancer is poorly understood. Other than cigarette smoking, the risk factors are unclear. Most patients present with advanced disease when curative treatment is impossible. Identifying factors (either specific symptoms, or biomarkers) that might be able to pick-up pancreatic cancer at an early stage is important. Survival rates are very low (around 3% at five years after diagnosis) and have not improved over the past 30 years. Little is known about the factors that influence survival or patient quality of life.

The PanCAM study aimed to :

  • establish a bank of data, genetic and biological samples from pancreatic cancer cases and unaffected controls from across Ireland;
  • investigate lifestyle, environmental and genetic risk factors for pancreatic cancer; and
  • examine treatment pathways and how management decisions impact on patient survival and quality-of-life.

Extensive lifestyle and dietary data and biological samples (including serum, DNA and toenail clippings) has been collected from 170 cases with pancreatic cancer and 290 controls. Cases also completed questionnaires to assess their health-related quality-of-life. Family members involved in caring for those with pancreatic cancer completed questionnaires to assess the caregiver burden.  Data analysis is underway.

The PanCAM project is part of a large European collaboration on pancreatic cancer, MolDiag-Paca. The data and samples collected in PanCAM are contributing to a European case-control study investigating the genetic epidemiology of pancreatic cancer, co-ordinated by the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre.

Related papers: 

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