The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's recent report, "Pancreatic Cancer: A trickle of federal funding for a river of need," calls attention to the lack of federal resources allocated to pancreatic cancer research and supports the need for legislation as lawmakers re-introduce the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act today on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) and Reps. Eshoo (D-CA) and Lance (R-NJ) were joined by Lisa Niemi Swayze, wife of actor Patrick Swayze, to announce the re-introduction of the bill. Once enacted and fully funded, the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act will ensure that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) takes the necessary steps to address the astounding mortality of pancreatic cancer by developing a long-term comprehensive strategic plan targeting the disease so patient outcomes will improve in the years to come.
"For 40 years, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer has remained in the single digits despite an increase in the incidence of the disease, despite the fact that it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death and at a time when significant progress has been made on other cancers," stated Julie Fleshman, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "The survival rate for pancreatic cancer has remained relatively the same because the federal government's approach to pancreatic cancer has been relatively the same provide a trickle of research funding as a response to a river of need."
"Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer with a survival rate of six percent. Despite the terrifying statistics, it's still one of the most overlooked types of cancer and research continues to be underfunded while the death toll climbs," Rep. Eshoo said. "This bill will ensure that the necessary strategy and resources are in place to improve the lives of those suffering from this terrible disease which today is in almost all cases a death sentence."
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network report makes the case for a new national strategy for knowing, fighting and ending pancreatic cancer. Currently, research dedicated to pancreatic cancer receives a mere two percent of the federal dollars distributed by the NCI and the organizations analysis showed that pancreatic cancer is behind in nearly every important grant category funded by the federal government. The five year pancreatic cancer survival rate of just six percent is a result of not having a dedicated national research strategy to build scientific knowledge and collaboration to speed advancements.
"Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease which has hit home for thousands of families in Rhode Island and around the country," said Whitehouse. "This legislation will help develop better treatments and provide hope to those suffering from pancreatic cancer."
It is imperative that the NCI develop and implement a focused strategic plan to combat this deadliest of cancers. Experts have projected the number of pancreatic cancer cases will increase by 55 percent by the year 2030. This deadly disease is a growing burden on society as cancer costs are projected to reach at least $158 billion in 2020, and pancreatic cancer is among the cancers cited in the NCI study as having the highest initial costs.
"It is imperative that Congress work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion on reducing the mortality rate for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States," Rep. Lance said. "The Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act seeks to provide a greater focus on this disease while giving researchers the tools and resources they need to develop treatments and hopefully cures for pancreatic cancer patients."
The release of the report and reintroduction of the pancreatic cancer legislation comes just one week after the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network announced an initiative to double the survival of pancreatic cancer patients by 2020. The organization is intensifying its efforts to raise awareness, support patients and intensify advocacy for a national research strategy dedicated to finding a cure by undertaking this bold new initiative.
"We salute Sen. Whitehouse and Reps. Eshoo and Lance for their leadership in re-introducing the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act and their commitment to ensure progress is made against this deadly disease," added Fleshman.
To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, visit www.pancan.org.
About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network -The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase the survival rate for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative The Vision of Progress: Double the Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate by 2020. Together, we can know, fight and end pancreatic cancer by intensifying our efforts to heighten awareness, raise funds for comprehensive private research, and advocate for dedicated federal research to advance early diagnostics, better treatments and increase chances of survival.