Image - Pancreatic Cancer Research Hub plans to double survival of patients with pancreatic cancer by 2030

Associate Professor Phoebe Phillips

Professors Michael Barton and David Goldstein launched the Cancer Clinical Academic Group’s ‘BIG Ideas’ scheme for poor outcome cancers in 2018. The best minds from NSW health districts, hospitals, universities and research institutes were brought together with a mission to improve patient survival in a poor-outcome cancer – pancreatic cancer.

As a result, we formed the Pancreatic Cancer Research Hub, Australia’s first ever centre dedicated to preventing, treating, and eventually curing a cancer – that will be Australia’s second leading cause of cancer mortality by 2030.

The Hub links the Lowy Cancer Research Centre in Randwick, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Ingham Institute in Liverpool to capitalise on existing translational research centres. It will serve as an international exemplar and attract leading medical talent from around the world, enhancing NSW’s reputation as a centre of medical research excellence and a source of new life-saving treatments.

Sydney is home to Australia’s leading pancreatic cancer researchers and clinical pancreatic cancer centres of excellence, who have already demonstrated effective collaborations and skillsets required to tackle pancreatic cancer and a strong pipeline from the bench to the clinic.

Pancreatic cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death – only 9% of people diagnosed with it survive for five years. In NSW alone almost 900 people die each year from this cancer.

While survival rates for many cancers in Australia have improved dramatically over the last 30 years, people with pancreatic cancer have had persistently poor outcomes.  Over a 15-year period to 2010-2014, the five-year survival for pancreatic cancer has improved, but from a very low base (3.4%), and very slowly – at an average rate of one-fifth of a percentage point each year. Overall survival for other cancers has improved at five times this rate. As a result, new projections suggest pancreatic cancer will be the second leading cause of cancer mortality by 2030. By 2030 our team aims to at least double survival rates for pancreatic cancer patients.

The Pancreatic Cancer Research Hub will overturn the belief that pancreatic cancer is lethal and that ‘nothing can be done’ for these patients.  We can greatly improve pancreatic cancer outcomes by replacing the current fragmented approach with comprehensive, systematised research discovery linked to patient care to ensure that every patient in NSW receives optimal care.  We know what to do and we know it will work.

With support from the TCRN, CONCERT and UNSW Medicine Cancer Theme our team has formulated a ‘BIG Idea’ to change these statistics. Our interdisciplinary hub will develop, implement and evaluate systems of care that maximise the delivery of the most effective pancreatic cancer treatments in Australia for patients most likely to benefit. We are committed to lead innovative approaches to treatment and facilitate partnerships to perform cutting-edge research and drive positive change for patients with pancreatic cancer both locally and globally.

Our goals will be addressed by establishing pathways for all pancreatic cancer patients to access expert care centres, transformative clinical studies informed by laboratory research, educating clinicians in available treatments, increasing opportunities for all patients to be involved in clinical trials and research programs.

We are united in a collaborative effort with a bold vision to transform the lives of patients with pancreatic cancer.

Do you have a BIG Idea you would like to explore? Submit your EOI at any time using this form.