Sample Floor Speeches for Pancreatic Cancer

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Congressional Staff

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has a variety of resources available to help you and your office keep up-to-date on issues and legislation that affects the pancreatic cancer community. In addition to the resources below, our staff is available to answer your questions and provide additional information.

Sample Floor Speeches
We are currently asking Congress to support a permanent fix to sequestration and provide sustained adequate funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI). Specifically, we are asking each member of Congress to demonstrate their support by talking to their leadership and by delivering a one-minute floor speech citing the growing threat of pancreatic cancer, one of the nation’s deadliest cancers, as an example for why Congress must protect adequate and sustained medical research funding. Below are three sample floor speeches that illustrate this point.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Megan Gordon Don, Director of Government Affairs & Advocacy, at mgdon@pancan.org or 202-742-6776.

Example #1
Mr. Speaker, thanks to broad partisan support, last year Congress passed and the President signed the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act.

While passage of legislation of any sort usually marks the end of a process, in this case, it is only the beginning.

The bill was originally titled the “Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act” and I was a proud co-sponsor of the bill. Why was it introduced? Because while overall cancer incidence and death rates are declining, that is far from the case for pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of all major forms of cancer, having the lowest five-year survival rate of just 6 percent. It will strike more than 45,000 Americans this year—73 percent of whom will die within a year of their diagnosis.

The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act will help turn those deadly statistics around by calling on the National Cancer Institute—the world’s leading cancer research organization—to develop a scientific framework, or strategic research plan, for combating both pancreatic cancer and lung cancer and other deadly cancers, under the director’s discretion.

Each scientific framework will help pinpoint the most promising avenues for research, find ways to coordinate scarce resources and identify public and private resources to help expedite research.

The problem is that funding for NIH and the National Cancer Institute has been eroding. NIH has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power to inflation over the past 10 years. More recently, the sequestration cut NIH by $1.55 billion. The cuts will keep coming unless we do something to stop it, creating a situation in which it will be very difficult to leverage the opportunities identified through the strategic frameworks called for in the bill, which means that it will be even more difficult to make progress in diseases like pancreatic cancer. I urge my colleagues to support a permanent fix to sequestration and provide the resources needed to conquer pancreatic cancer and other deadly cancers.

Example #2
Mr. Speaker, last year Congress passed the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act with broad bipartisan support. The bill calls on the National Cancer Institute—the world’s premier cancer research organization—to develop a scientific framework for combating both pancreatic cancer and lung cancer and gives the director the discretion to create similar strategic plans for other deadly cancers.

Originally titled the “Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act,” the legislation was introduced because while overall cancer incidence and death rates are declining, the rates associated with pancreatic cancer have actually been increasing, and are projected to grow by 55 percent by 2030. Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths in the US and the deadliest of all major forms of cancer, with a 5-year survival rate of just 6 percent.

That bill we passed will help pinpoint the most promising avenues for research, find ways to coordinate scarce resources and identify public and private resources to help expedite the development of better diagnostic tools and more effective treatments.

Unfortunately, the progress we stand to make by passing the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act is in jeopardy. Our current investments in building a research force equipped to address pancreatic cancer must continue to be funded if we want to see true progress against this disease. However, NIH funding has become scarcer over the last several years as part of the debt control measures. NIH has already lost 20 percent of its purchasing power to inflation over the past 10 years and that was before the sequestration cuts were implemented. More recently, the sequestration cut NIH by an additional $1.55 billion. It will be very difficult to leverage the opportunities that come out of the scientific frameworks developed as a result of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act if sequestration continues.

I urge my colleagues to support a permanent fix to sequestration and provide the resources needed to conquer these deadly cancers.

Example #3
Mr. Speaker, I have had several recent conversations with constituents who have thanked me for my support of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act last Congress and who have provided me with an update on pancreatic cancer statistics. Unfortunately, the statistics have not improved.

Pancreatic cancer is still the only major cancer with a five-year survival rate in the single digits at just 6 percent. It is still the fourth leading cause of cancer death, although there are projections that it will rise to number two by 2020. There are still no early detection tools or life-saving treatments.

The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act calls on the National Cancer Institute to develop a scientific framework for combating both pancreatic cancer and lung cancer and gives the director the discretion to create similar strategic plans for other deadly cancers that have a five-year survival rate below 50 percent. These strategic plans are desperately needed in these cancers for which we have made so little progress so that we have a plan for how to succeed.

However, the plans have little chance of succeeding if NIH does not have the resources to implement the strategies identified. Deadly cancers currently account for nearly 50 percent of all cancer deaths in this country and both the incidence and death rate for pancreatic cancer is increasing. The answers that could lead to changing the statistics for pancreatic cancer could lie in one of the grants currently under review at the NCI. However, we may never realize the potential because cuts to the NCI’s budget are resulting in good grants being thrown out with the trash.

We cannot let this situation continue. I therefore urge my colleagues to support a permanent fix to sequestration and provide the resources needed to conquer these deadly cancers.

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