Madison’s first ‘Purple Stride’ since Alex Trebek’s death stays virtual, PanCAN sets ambitious goal

MADISON, Wis.– May 1 is Madison’s first PanCAN Purple Stride since several well-known people made their battles with Stage IV pancreatic cancer public. Alex Trebek, John Lewis, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg all died from the disease in the past year. This weekend’s virtual event provided an opportunity for Wisconsinites to continue their fights in the hope that, soon, more people will have the chance to survive.

According to the National Cancer Institute’s last complete study, more than 56,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year. More than 46,000 die from the disease.

By the time 52% of patients are diagnosed, the cancer has already spread outside the pancreas to other organs. The survival rate is typically 12 to 18 months.

“The prognosis is pretty low,” explained Dr. Monica Patel, a GI medical oncologist at the UW’s Carbone Cancer Center. “When it comes to metastatic disease, the best case scenario is when patients live a short number of years.”

The five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is 10%, the lowest of any major cancer.

READ MORE: What my grandma would want you to know about her battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer

More research is needed, which is why non-profits like PanCAN are necessary. The country’s largest pancreatic cancer organization hopes to double the current 5-year survival rate: from 10%, to 20% by the year 2030.

First-of-its-kind research is currently underway at the UW Health Carbone Cancer Center to help doctors better detect the disease.

News 3 Now exclusively talked to Dr. Patel about the local research happening in Madison. You can watch our conversation Sunday, May 2 at 10 p.m. on WISC.