Pancreatic cancer is among one of the most terrifying cancer diagnoses that someone can receive. So little is known about pancreatic cancer, how it develops, how it can be best diagnosed, and most importantly, how it can be best treated. Because pancreatic cancer is relatively asymptotic in the beginning, by the time it is diagnosed, it can be well beyond the point that treatment can be effective. That’s why pancreatic cancer is so scary for patients.

Research continues into pancreatic cancer and all the nuances surrounding it in an effort to better understand how to save lives.

One of the big obstacles for treating pancreatic cancer is its continued resistance to chemotherapy – one of the more commonly used treatment plans for cancer patients. Until recently, doctors were unclear why this resistance exists and research has continued into how best to treat this aggressive form of cancer.

Temple University’s Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, however, has released information in the past few weeks that is the result of extensive research that they have done regarding the connection between pancreatic cancer and chemotherapy. And it turns out that Vitamin D is the answer.

Their research has shown that Vitamin D acts as fuel for pancreatic cancer cells and allows them to continue to grow. During their research, the team at Fox Chase, led by Dr. Timothy J. Yen, found that if they are able to determine a way to make Vitamin D receptors inactive in pancreatic cancer cells, then chemotherapy can actually have the opportunity to kill the cancer.

The research team spent four years isolating 24,000 genes in pancreatic cancer cells to identify which one if any had any effect on how chemotherapy treats pancreatic cancer cells.

This is significant news in the world of cancer care and a major hope for those who are fighting pancreatic cancer and the millions who will after them.