Pancreatic cancer is caused by the unrestrained growth of cells in the pancreas. This abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells leads to the formation of lumps of tissue, commonly referred to as tumors. The presence of tumors hinders the normal functioning of pancreas.
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Pancreatic cancer is a key challenge in the United States, where the 30,000 patients are diagnosed with the disease each year. The U.S. has the highest number of pancreatic cancer patients in the world. With less than five-year survival, the pancreatic cancer market has among the highest unmet therapy needs in the overall oncology market. Evidently, this is also the greatest challenge that the pancreatic cancer market needs to address. Given the aggressive nature of pancreatic cancer, treatments often return inadequate results. This aspect is yet another barrier to the growth of this market.
Technologies for the timely diagnosis of this cancer type are yet to develop fully, which results in a majority of pancreatic cancer patients being diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease. This reflects in the high mortality rates associated with pancreatic cancer. Estimates show that only a small percentage (about 12% to 15%) of patients is diagnosed early enough to be treated with surgical procedures, drugs, and chemotherapy. Pancreatic cancer begins at stage I, with the subsequent stages being: stage II, stage III, and stage IV. Only stage I and stage II pancreatic cancers can be surgically removed.
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The pancreatic cancer market is segmented based on whether the cancer affects endocrine or exocrine functions. Adenocarcinomas, which constitutes nearly 95% of all exocrine pancreatic cancers, is the most common pancreatic cancer type. Other prevalent cancers of the pancreas that affect endocrine functions include: squamous cell carcinomas, adenosquamous carcinomas, and giant cell carcinomas.
The pancreatic cancer drug market is dominated by Gemzar (Gemcitabine) developed by Eli Lilly. Gemzar is ranks among the most advanced types of drug therapies recommended advanced stage treatments (stage III and stage IV). A majority of the pancreatic cancer drug market is led by Gemzar developed by Eli Lilly and Tarceva(Erlotinib), by Genentech/ OSI Pharmaceuticals/ Roche as they have been in the market for a considerable time.
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Abraxane by Celgene, is another therapeutic drug that was launched in the US in 2013, and in Europe in 2014. Abraxane was the first drug to be approved for pancreatic cancer treatment in almost a decade, and is expected to aggressively compete with existing drugs. A few pipeline drugs are expected to be launched toward the end of the forecast period. Numerous untapped opportunities in clinical development exist in the pancreatic cancer market.