MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is urging Americans to join the growing movement to defeat pancreatic cancer through an interactive awareness campaign launched today. The campaign, Volunteer for Progress, leads into National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November. It features a series of videos and messages from actor Dana Delany, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, the organization's National Spokesperson Lisa Niemi Swayze and others, who will encourage the public to volunteer for the organization and become heroes in the fight against this deadly disease.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which the survival rate has not improved substantially in 40 years. Most of the campaign's spokespersons have been personally affected by the disease. Jack Nicklaus lost his father, Charles, to pancreatic cancer in 1970 and his Uncle Frank several years later. Dana Delany's father died of the disease in 1981. When Lisa Niemi Swayze's husband, Patrick, was diagnosed in 2008 with pancreatic cancer, he faced relatively the same odds as those diagnosed in the 70's and 80's. Sadly, Swayze lost his very public battle with the disease in 2009. Today, the five-year survival rate remains at a dismal six percent.
"Volunteer for Progress is a battle cry for friends, neighbors and coworkers to join our efforts to advance research, support patients and create hope for all those affected by pancreatic cancer. Our goal is to sign up 6,996 new volunteers from across the country to represent every person estimated to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from today through the end of November," said Julie Fleshman, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "We applaud Dana, Jack and Lisa for championing Volunteer for Progress, and hope they inspire many others to join our efforts."
Throughout the campaign, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will urge new supporters to take simple actions that can make a big difference in the fight against the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The actions include, volunteering with a local affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, participating in events such as PurpleStride or PurpleLight National Vigil for Hope, or contacting their members of Congress to gain their support for more research funding.
This year, more than 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and nearly 38,000 will die of the disease. In fact, 74 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. There are no early detection tools and few effective treatments for patients. Despite these sobering statistics, just two percent of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) federal research funding is allocated to pancreatic cancer.
Once enacted and fully funded, a bill championed by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network known as the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act (S. 362/ H.R. 733) will ensure that the NCI develops a long-term comprehensive strategic plan for developing early diagnostic and treatment options that will increase the survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients.
"Although progress is being made in the fight against pancreatic cancer, we need more volunteers to answer our challenge and propel further advances for this devastating disease," added Fleshman.
To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Volunteer for Progress, visit www.knowitfightitendit.org.
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.
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SOURCE Pancreatic Cancer Action Network