The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy, is calling on the federal government to make pancreatic cancer research a national priority, as the incidence and death rates for the fourth leading cause of cancer death in our country continue to increase according to “Cancer Facts & Figures 2011,” a report released today by the American Cancer Society. Pancreatic cancer cases and deaths have been on the rise since 1998, according to the report. This year, it is estimated 44,030 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 37,660 will die from the disease.

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the 1971 National Cancer Act and over the past four decades we’ve seen a significant improvement in overall cancer survival rates from 50 percent to 68 percent, while pancreatic cancer remains a dismal 6 percent,” noted Julie Fleshman, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “A patient diagnosed today with pancreatic cancer has virtually the same outcome as in 1971. The pancreatic cancer community is calling on legislators to save lives by passing, without delay, the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act. Pancreatic cancer patients can’t wait another forty years.”

Currently, research dedicated to pancreatic cancer receives approximately two percent of the federal dollars distributed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and there is no long-term and comprehensive strategy in place to improve survival. The Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S.362/H.R.733) will ensure that the NCI develops a long-term comprehensive strategic plan for developing early diagnostics and treatment options that will increase the survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and in the House by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and is receiving broad bi-partisan support from legislators.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is intensifying its efforts to increase survival of pancreatic cancer patients through The Vision of Progress: Double the Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate by 2020. The organization is doubling 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.

“There are nearly twelve million cancer survivors in this country, but few of them are pancreatic cancer patients. We must change the statistics,” added Fleshman.

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