NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate and is sometimes referred to as “the silent killer.”

But there is some hopeful news in the fight against the disease. No, a cure hasn’t been discovered, and researchers are being careful not to call it a breakthrough.

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Elizabeth Poplin of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey said Wednesday she believes that unlike previous treatments, this one goes right to the source.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

“It’s a promising lead,” Poplin told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “We’re giving them a vaccine into the pancreas and into their arm in the hopes of boosting their immunity to the cancer.”

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Poplin said it’s still early, but doctors and researchers are encouraged.

“We’re hopeful that we’re seeing something different harnessing the immune system to work against the cancer,” Poplin said.

While the average life expectancy is one year from diagnosis, 4 of 6 patients in the trial have exceeded a year. Unfortunately, Poplin added that fewer than 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are eligible for this treatment.

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How encouraged are you about this promising lead? Please share your comments below…