WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will join more than 160 organizations on Capitol Hill on September 18, 2013 to call on Congress to protect federal funding for medical research. Special guest Lisa Niemi, Chief Ambassador of Hope at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, will be among the attendees. Her husband, actor Patrick Swayze, lost his life to pancreatic cancer in September 2009.
"I am honored to join advocates from across the country in our united fight to preserve life-saving federal funding for biomedical research," said Lisa Niemi Swayze. "My husband displayed tremendous strength and courage in his own fight against cancer, and raised his voice about the importance of funding for the National Institutes of Health before his death. It is my honor to continue his fight, particularly given that last week was the four year anniversary of his passing. I am determined to make sure that others will have a better prognosis."
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a sponsor of the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day, which is organized by the American Association for Cancer Research. This Capitol Hill event is a part of the Rally for Medical Research initiative, which drew more than 10,000 people to Washington in April 2013 to raise awareness about recent cuts to the budgets of the (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Swayze will be joined by representatives of and advocates for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, including Julie Fleshman, President and CEO and Laurie MacCaskill, the organization's newly-named Chair of the National Board of Directors. MacCaskill, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer seven years ago, is the first pancreatic cancer survivor to hold this position.
The NIH budget has been effectively cut 20 percent already over the last decade because funding has not kept pace with biomedical inflation. The $1.6 billion cut to NIH that went into effect in March 2013 is on top of these previous cuts.
"The continued decrease in NIH funding is extremely problematic for diseases like pancreatic cancer, which is one of our nation's leading cancer killers," said Julie Fleshman. "There are currently no early detection methods and limited treatment options for this disease, and incidence and mortality are on the rise. Real progress requires sufficient and sustained federal funding. It is our hope that our leaders in Washington can come to this same understanding."
At six percent, the five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is the lowest of all major cancers. This statistic is particularly alarming when you consider the survival rate for all cancers is 68 percent. Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but is anticipated to become the second by 2020. Federal funding for the NCI and NIH is critical to continue the fight against this deadly disease and improve patient outcomes.
Last year, Congress took a stand for pancreatic cancer patients by passing the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act. The statute calls on the National Cancer Institute to develop scientific frameworks to provide strategic direction in the fight against pancreatic and other deadly cancers. It will be very difficult to leverage the opportunities that come out of this effort unless NIH's funding situation is rectified," said Fleshman.
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. To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's advocacy efforts, visit www.knowitfightitendit.org.
SOURCE Pancreatic Cancer Action Network