Pancreatic cancer has long been considered one of the deadliest forms of this disease known to man. With few, if any, symptoms at its onset and no widespread screening tool available, this disease often goes undetected until it reaches advanced stages. Considering that, finding effective treatments is especially difficult. Researchers, however, think they may have found a way to stop this form of cancer from growing.

It turns out that drugs used to treat schizophrenia may slow pancreatic cancer tumor growth. They’ve also been shown to help stop the spread of the disease to different parts of the body. Although only tested so far on mice, the results have been impressive. Researchers found that common schizophrenia drugs have the ability to block dopamine receptors, which inhibits the growth of cancer.

The drugs that show benefits with pancreatic cancer are pimozide and aloperidol. Mice treated with haloperidol had smaller tumors and less spread than untreated mice. While more research must be done before these drugs might be used on human patients, the findings so far are encouraging. Pancreatic cancer has a current five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent. This is largely due to the fact this form of cancer is generally diagnosed only in its later stages. In addition, many pancreatic tumors are resistant to standard cancer treatments and may be impossible to remove surgically.

An estimated 53,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in America. Some 41,000 people die from the disease annually. People are considered at higher risk for this disease if they have a family history of it, are diabetics, suffer from chronic pancreatitis or smoke.

Anyone concerned about personal risks for pancreatic cancer should speak with a healthcare provider. While no standard screening test is available for the general public, those at especially high risk will find screening tools are available to them.