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Credit: TopNews.in

As one of the country's most lethal diseases, pancreatic cancer claims five Australian lives every day, but still remains off the health billboard.

Professor David Goldstein, medical oncologist and director of the Sydney-based GI CANCER Institute said there is very little progress made for the research of the disease.

Despite considerable research efforts into pancreatic cancer over the last decade, very little progress has been made in the treatment of this disease, says Prof Goldstein.

Fewer than five per cent of patients survive past five years from diagnosis, and the reason for such poor survival is that pancreatic cancer is aggressive and often undetected until it has spread into other organs and tissues.

The average survival rate for advanced pancreatic cancer was just three to six months, worse than any other cancer, said Prof Goldstein and some people died within weeks of the diagnosis.

Recent research into providing a clearer picture of the operation of different cancers at a genetic level has only just opened a door into the previously-unknown nature of the disease.

However, the international understanding about pancreatic cancer was at the level where bowel cancer was about five to ten years ago, said Prof Goldstein.

The challenge we are facing is to find better treatments for this cancer and the scientific techniques to better understand pancreatic cancer may now be coming available, he said.

The report that offered a picture of pancreatic cancer in Australia released on Wednesday revealed 2,244 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in the country back in 2006 and the number of deaths because of it was a whopping 2,076.

The report boldly stated that Australians have a greater chance of dying from pancreatic cancer than in a car accident.

Known risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking, obesity and particularly a diet packed with saturated fat.

In Australia, it is the 12th most common cancer, yet it is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths.

Deaths related to the cancer and diagnoses of the condition among Australians have been gradually increasing since 1960s.

It is believed that a high intake of fruits and foods containing folate may help to protect against pancreatic cancer, stated the report.