Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act Gains Momentum in Congress

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June 21, 2012


House Committee Addresses Legislation During Hearing

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (June 21, 2012) — The U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce today held a hearing at which the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/H.R. 733) was discussed. The bill would require the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop a long-term comprehensive strategic research plan that would help develop early diagnostics and effective treatment options for patients that would increase survival rates for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer played a prominent role in the hearing with Representatives Pallone, Lance and Burgess all asking questions about pancreatic cancer. Further, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Francis Collins, highlighted the need for action, saying that “one of the things we desperately need is early detection” for pancreatic cancer and to understand how to treat the disease. Dr. Collins also said that he looks forward to continuing the discussion on the issue with Congressional leaders and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

The legislation that would help develop these early detection methods and treatments has received overwhelming broad, bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats alike and is currently co-sponsored by more than 245 members of the U.S. House and half of the U.S. Senate.

The hearing comes in advance of the Sixth Annual Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day, which takes place on Tuesday, June 26th. Nearly 700 supporters from all around the country will descend on Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress to ask them to pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act this year.

“It is encouraging the Energy & Commerce Committee discussed this life-changing legislation at the hearing today. But, we need to move from discussion to action. More than 181,000 Americans have died from pancreatic cancer in the five years since the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act was first introduced,” stated Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “The bill is critical to increasing the current five-year relative survival rate, which is the lowest among all major cancers, standing at just six percent. By comparison, the five-year relative survival rate for all cancers is 67 percent, including 100 percent for prostate cancer and 90 percent for breast cancer. The time is now to address this deadly disease.”

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Nearly 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and more than 37,000 will die. In fact, 74 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. While overall cancer incidence and death rates are declining, the incidence and death rates for pancreatic cancer have been increasing.

Fleshman concluded, “The bill now needs the support of House and Senate leadership to bring the legislation out of committee and on to the floor. Congress must finally pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act, so that we can improve the survival rates for this terrible disease.”

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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.

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