The Blog

The Woiner Foundation partners with World Pancreatic Cancer Day

i Nov 1st No Comments by

The second annual World Pancreatic Cancer Day on Friday, November 13, will unite advocates around the globe in their mission to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. An estimated 926 people globally are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every day. And, every day, an estimated 905 people globally will die from the disease.

Despite rising incidences, most people are unaware of pancreatic cancer’s deadly toll. A recent global survey found that 60% of people know “almost nothing” about the disease.

World Pancreatic Cancer Day’s goal is to bring much needed focus and attention to the disease, and especially the need for increased symptom awareness and greater investment into research. This worldwide initiative is being led by 56 patient advocacy organizations from around the world that are committed to tackling the fight against pancreatic cancer.

“Global awareness is the first step to action,” said Julie Fleshman, World Pancreatic Cancer Day Chair and CEO and President of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  “The more people who know about pancreatic cancer, the greater our opportunity to demand more research and develop better resources for those facing the disease.”

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, with just 2-10% of those diagnosed surviving five years. The reason why we need better diagnosis methods and treatment options is evident:

• Pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a five-year survival rate in the single digits.
• There is no early detection method. Nearly half (46%) of all Americans mistakenly believe there is a way to be screened for pancreatic cancer.  In the United Kingdom, 71% of people cannot name a single symptom of pancreatic cancer.
• There are few effective treatment options.
• Pancreatic cancer affects men and women equally.
• Death rates for pancreatic cancer are increasing while the death rates for other cancers are declining.

But according to the organizations behind World Pancreatic Cancer Day, including The Woiner Foundation, it is within these dismal circumstances that hope shines brightest. The efforts on November 13 will not only raise awareness and facts about the disease, but also spread the word that with more research funding and more people taking action, the pancreatic cancer survival rate will improve, as has been the case for other cancers.

World Pancreatic Cancer Day encourages everyone “to see purple” on November 13 by wearing purple, lighting landmarks purple, using purple on social media channels, etc. In addition, supporters will:
• Tackle a series of social media challenges to help people understand the need to know about the disease
• Secure media attention around the globe
• Encourage people to connect with their local pancreatic cancer organization

World Pancreatic Cancer Day is powered by corporate sponsors Celgene, Baxalta, Lilly Oncology, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and NewLink Genetics Corporation. For more information about World Pancreatic Cancer Day, go to

About World Pancreatic Cancer Day

World Pancreatic Cancer Day is a day dedicated to raising global awareness of pancreatic cancer and takes place during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.    Driven by a committee of patient advocacy organizations from around the world, the day seeks to start an online conversation about the need for awareness to spur research and advocacy for pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Moser’s robotic Whipple procedure featured in Boston Herald

i Nov 18th No Comments by

The sterile, chilly operating room at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is bustling with scrubbed-up hospital staff: Seven nurses and doctors. Fourteen watchful eyes.

And one robot. A half-ton, 7-foot-tall metal and plastic ’bot with four arms.

“OK, dock the robot!” a voice commands.

Nurse Melissa Jones — “Jonesy,” as she is called in the O.R. — is dwarfed by the massive Intuitive Surgical Inc. “da Vinci” robot as she wheels it into position, its four articulated arms looming high over the anesthetized patient. Surgeons had spent 90 minutes cutting away the fibrous remnants of scar tissue left from previous procedures. Now it’s time to begin the nitty-gritty of the five-hour surgery.

Paul Clauss, 77, of Winthrop, is having a potentially cancerous polyp removed from his small intestine before it can wreak havoc on the rest of his organs. The remoteness of the polyp makes it a good candidate for a robot’s precision and dexterity in the confined space within Clauss’ abdomen.

The surgeons also plan to remove his gallbladder, full of painful stones, although given the routine nature of that procedure they admit that using the robot is “a bit like killing a fly with nuclear weapons.”

In this case, the weapons of choice are the 8 mm instruments of the massive, seemingly miraculous yet highly controversial da Vinci surgical robot — which has no shortage of critics, as well as thousands of complaints to the Food and Drug Administration in the 14 years since the earliest version was introduced.

But Dr. James Moser, a surgeon at BIDMC who is performing Clauss’ procedure, swears by it. It has transformed the way he does his job, he says.

“People accept robotics in their life all the time,” Moser told the Herald ahead of Clauss’ surgery. “We have drones — robots blowing up enemies, robots flying planes. This is just a way to improve surgeons’ ability to do minimally invasive surgery.”

Read the full story at

Our Clubhouse hosts Pancreatic Cancer Support Groups

i Nov 5th No Comments by

Receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can bring with it a whole host of reactions.  It can be frightening and stressful for both the diagnosed and their loved ones.  And you are not alone.

Our Clubhouse would like to invite you to its free Pancreatic Cancer Support Group, where fears, concerns, and hopes can be shared with others who intimately know what receiving and living with this diagnosis means.

The group meets the second Thursday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Our Clubhouse

2816 Smallman Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Call 412.338.1919 or visit for details.

FDA approves Abraxane for advanced pancreatic cancer

i Sep 6th No Comments by

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today expanded the approved uses of Abraxane to treat patients with advanced (metastatic) pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. An estimated 45,220 patients will be diagnosed and 38,460 will die from the disease in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute. Surgery is the only option to permanently remove or cure pancreatic cancer, but it usually is too late for surgery by the time the cancer is diagnosed.

“Patients with pancreatic cancer are often diagnosed after the cancer has advanced and cannot be surgically removed,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In these situations, and in situations when the cancer has progressed following surgery, options like Abraxane can help prolong a patient’s life.”

Abraxane is a chemotherapy drug that can slow the growth of certain tumors. Abraxane is intended to be used with gemcitabine, another chemotherapy drug, in patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

The FDA reviewed the new use for Abraxane under the agency’s priority review program, which provides for an expedited review of drugs. Abraxane was also granted orphan product designation for pancreatic cancer because it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition.

The FDA approval of Abraxane is the first new treatment to be approved for adenocarcinoma pancreatic cancer in nearly eight years.

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Press Release

FDA Press Release

Scientists find potential loophole in pancreatic cancer defenses

i Mar 27th No Comments by

Cancer cells are known to “rewire” their metabolic circuits differently from normal cells to provide energy for cancerous growth. A study published today in Nature reveals that pancreatic tumor cells are dependent on an amino acid, glutamine, which they utilize via a molecular pathway that has no apparent backup system.

“Pancreatic cancer cells have painted themselves into a metabolic bottleneck,” said Dana-Farber’s Alec Kimmelman, MD, PhD, co-senior author of the publication with Lewis Cantley, PhD, of Weill Cornell Medical College. Their research showed “that if you suppress any enzyme in that pathway, the cancer cells cannot effectively compensate and they can no longer grow,” Kimmelman said.

Moreover, the investigators said, this novel glutamine pathway in pancreatic tumors does not appear to be important for normal cells, suggesting that inhibitor drugs could block cancer cells’ growth without harming healthy tissues and organs.

“We don’t have a drug to do this in humans,” Kimmelman said, “but we are working on inhibitors of enzymes in the glutamine pathway.”

Read the full article at

Study: Bitter melon toxic to pancreatic cancer cells

i Mar 27th No Comments by

A new study has shown that the juice of bitter melon, a commonly eaten vegetable in Asia and Africa, markedly suppresses the growth of pancreatic tumors in mice by disrupting the cancer cells’ metabolism of glucose, and literally starving them of the sugar they need to survive.

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is widely cultivated and eaten across Southeast Asia, Africa, China, Japan, Oceania and even in the Caribbean.  Although eaten for centuries, bitter melon’s many health benefits (anti-viral, antioxidant, anti-diabetes) have only recently come to light in Western medicine, with research on its anti-cancer potential sharply accelerating in just the last four years. Bitter melon has now shown activity against cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, liver, stomach and naso-pharynx, as well as leukemia and neuroblastoma. But not until this latest study has it been shown that bitter melon is also cytotoxic to pancreatic cancer – and potently so.

Researchers at University of Colorado Cancer Center prepared bitter melon juice by simply purchasing the melons (Chinese variety) from a local grocery store, removing pulp and seeds, then using a household juicer. Solids were removed, and the remaining juice was either tested directly on cell cultures, or freeze dried and ground into a fine powder to be used later for feeding to mice.

Read the full article at

Jack Andraka, 15, invents test for early detection of pancreatic cancer

i Mar 23rd No Comments by

The method for detecting pancreatic cancer hasn’t changed in nearly 60 years, but thanks to online research, a curious mind and an appetite for science, 15-year-old Jack Andraka of Crownsville, Md., invented a breakthrough, noninvasive method for detecting the deadly disease.

Andraka’s invention won him the Gordon E. Moore Award from Intel this year, along with $75,000 in scholarship funds, which proves that science isn’t just cool, it also pays.

The Gordon E. Moore Award, named for Intel’s retired chairman/CEO, honors one student finalist for his or her outstanding and innovative research and for the potential impact that work would have in the field and on the world at large. But he wasn’t always so sure his invention would earn him the top prize.

“You look around in the medical category, and it’s insane what people are doing,” Andraka says of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in which he was competing. “I was walking up and down the aisle and getting less and less confident. One girl created a new way to detect breast cancer using the computer. Mammography is really painful and invasive, but her method was noninvasive.”

In the end, Andraka’s invention prevailed, and he accepted the “Best in Category” award with an emotional display more typical of an Oscar winner.

Read the full article at