MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., June 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 500 people from across the country are on Capitol Hill today for the eighth annual Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day urging Congress to stomp on pancreatic cancer by stepping up federal research funding. Advocates from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will call on Congress to provide $5.26 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for FY15 and continue to include pancreatic cancer in the Department of Defense (DoD) Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) and provide at least $25 million for the program for FY15. Advocates will also encourage their Members of Congress to join the Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers.
While the five-year survival rate for cancer overall is 68 percent, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer remains bleak, at just 6 percent. In fact, a recent Pancreatic Cancer Action Network study published in Cancer Research indicates that pancreatic cancer will surpass breast and colorectal cancer to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death by 2020.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has long advocated for increased federal support in an effort to improve patient outcomes. Due to these efforts, the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act was signed into law by President Obama in January 2013. The act requires the NCI to develop a scientific framework to conduct and support research for recalcitrant cancers, including pancreatic and lung. In February 2014, the NCI took a critical step in fulfilling the provisions of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act when it unveiled the "Scientific Framework for Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma," providing specific recommendations for moving forward on four research initiatives to develop early-detection methods, and new treatment approaches.
"We must continue the momentum in the fight against pancreatic cancer and urge Congress to ensure that the NCI has sufficient resources to leverage the opportunities outlined in their report so that we can make meaningful progress toward improved survival for pancreatic cancer patients," stated Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Unfortunately, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget has been cut repeatedly over the last few years. On top of these cuts, NIH lost another 5 percent last year because of sequestration. In fact, since FY2003, the NIH budget has decreased over 20 percent, more than $6 billion (adjusted for inflation). NIH may face more cuts in FY2016 if we don't stop sequestration. Further, NCI's share of the NIH budget has declined, from 18.7 percent in the late 1990s to 16.4 percent today – a loss of $680 million.
However, there is some good news. Since 2011, pancreatic cancer has been included in the DoD's PRCRP program, which funds high-risk, high-reward research projects. As a result, more than $5 million in research grants has been awarded for pancreatic cancer research projects. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network calls on Congress to continue to include pancreatic cancer in this program and to provide at least $25 million for the program in FY2015.
Added Fleshman, "Congress must stomp on pancreatic cancer by stepping up federal funding for medical research — research that saves lives."
Supporters unable to attend Advocacy Day are encouraged to participate in the National Call-In to add their voices to those in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.pancan.org/nationalcallin.
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 survival for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative — The Vision of Progress: Double Pancreatic Cancer Survival 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 and better treatments and increase chances of survival.
SOURCE Pancreatic Cancer Action Network