Why Can’t We Raise the Volume on Pancreatic Cancer?

Posted by: in Digital Health, Healthcare Insights, Medical Communications on May 30, 2014

The recently released Social Oncology Report offers great visibility on the state of social cancer conversation and will likely spur much dialogue, debate and diagnosis about the variability of that conversation across specific cancer types.

For me, the report spurs one big question with few answers: why aren’t more people talking about pancreatic cancer?

According to the report, “no other major cancer has as broad a gap between the number of annual deaths and the conversation volume as pancreatic cancer.” “… pancreatic cancer kills nearly 40,000 yet generates less than 10 percent of the conversation of breast cancer.”

While volume rose during moments you’d expect a spike in conversation, namely Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and the announcement of a Stand Up to Cancer “Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team,” why aren’t more people talking about their experience, frustration, fear or even successes with this killer?

The American Cancer Society assures us that “research into the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of pancreatic cancer is under way in many medical centers throughout the world,” and their latest update indicates many promising targeted, immune and personalized therapies are currently under investigation . At the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting kicking off today in Chicago, there are more than 200 abstracts focused on pancreatic cancer trials.

It’s not a hidden killer: many well-known, successful personalities have battled and lost the fight, including Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze, Sally Ride and Bonnie Franklin.

While the deaths of these celebrities may have created an awareness and conversation spike similar to those seen this past year with the “Walter White Effect” or “Angelina Effect,” a sustained drumbeat of conversation is needed to increase earlier diagnosis, share research strides and provide the much-needed awareness and hope pancreatic cancer needs now.

By: Diane Weiser

Practice Lead, Healthcare, WCG

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