ATLANTA - According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers with the lowest survival rate.
Dr. Andrew Page, Surgical Oncologist and Director of Liver Pancreas and Cancer Surgery at Piedmont Healthcare says the incidence of pancreas cancer is increasing with about 55,000 people diagnosed a year.
"Really, over the last many years, the mortality for pancreatic cancer hasn't changed at all. That's frustrating for people like myself. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is a cancer that you can't screen for. It's not like colon cancer, it's not like breast cancer," Dr. Page told FOX 5's Deidra Dukes.
The pancreas is located deep in the body so tumors aren't typically detected during routine exams.
The cancer is often in an advanced stage by the time someone experiences upper abdominal pain, weight loss, jaundice and other symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
"Unfortunately with more advanced, the role for surgery really isn't there for most patients. But in general, it requires a combination of chemo, immunotherapy biological therapy and hopefully surgery", said Dr. Page.
After surviving four bouts of pancreatic cancer, Howard Young is cancer-free. Young is defying the odds. He was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 17 years ago.
"So far, it's been four years and I'm cancer-free as far as we can tell."
While there's no history of pancreatic cancer in Young's family, given his own history, his three daughters, who do not have pancreatic cancer, are currently enrolled in a clinical trial.
"We're just trying to do this for their benefit and for others. I think the more we can learn how this disease works and how it's passed along to others we can help provide early detection and help others survive."
According to Dr. Page, about 45,000 people a year die from pancreatic cancer, which is why survivors like Young advocate for more funding to fight the disease.
"It is so crucial to get the funding of course. There's not enough funding coming from the National Cancer Institute for these trials, so generally, they have to be funded by private foundations."