Pancreatic cancer will become the second deadliest cancer in the United States by 2030 overtaking prostate cancer and breast cancer currently considered as the second deadliest cancer for men and women respectively, projections made by researchers from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in California and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas show.

Lung cancer currently holds the top position as the most dangerous cancer in the U.S. and data from the research "Projecting Cancer Incidence and Deaths to 2030: The Unexpected Burden of Thyroid, Liver, and Pancreas Cancers in the United States" which was published in the American Association for Cancer Research journal Cancer Research on May 19 show that it will retain its position 16 years from now. Pancreatic cancer and liver cancer, however, will take the second and third top spots as deadliest forms of cancer by 2030 overtaking breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.

For their projection, the researchers took into account changes in the country's demographics such as the advancing age of the population, the availability of effective screening and prevention methods as well as the prevalence of risk factors such as certain diseases and smoking. The availability of better and advanced screening methods, for instance, is projected to reduce the number of prostate, breast and colorectal cancers incidences.

"Advances in screening, prevention, and treatment can change cancer incidence and/or death rates, but it will require a concerted effort by the research and healthcare communities now to effect a substantial change for the future," the researchers wrote.

The number of pancreatic cancer related deaths increases partly because of the advancing age of the population and the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes, which could occur when the pancreas has difficulty producing insulin for the body. The declining mortality rate of other types of cancer is also partly responsible to pancreatic cancer moving to the second deadliest spot.

While better detection methods are already available for prostate, breast and colorectal cancers, no effective screening methods are yet available to reliably detect pancreatic tumors and this results in most pancreatic cancer cases being detected only when the disease is already in the advanced stage when the odds for successful surgery and treatment are small.

"The projections for deaths from pancreatic and liver cancers are startling," said study author Lynn Matrisian, from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "This study is a call to action to the scientific and clinical communities, as well as the population at large, to increase attention, awareness, and ultimately progress in the fight against pancreatic cancer."

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