Pancreatic Cancer is hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. Symptoms, which include jaundice, significant weight loss, pain in the back or abdomen, and digestive problems, are usually not detected until the later stages of the cancer because they can be vague and easily attributed to other more common health issues. The life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer that has metastasized is just 3 to 6 months. About 80% of Pancreatic Cancer patients are dead within the first year of diagnosis. Only about 5% survive for five years or longer, the lowest survival rate of all the major cancers.
“In 2006, an estimated $66.7 million dollars of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) cancer research investment was spent on pancreatic cancer research. This is just 1% of the NCI’s $4.8 billion dollar cancer research budget for 2006.”
The numbers are alarming, and prove that Pancreatic Cancer is obviously not getting the support or attention which it demands.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) works hard to create awareness for the disease and to advocate for a cure. PanCAN’s mission is “to advance research, support patients and create hope for those affected by pancreatic cancer.”
“The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. (PanCAN) was founded in 1999 to focus national attention on a disease that impacts over 37,000 Americans annually but receives far less consideration than cancers of comparable severity. Initially created as a grass-roots organization, PanCAN has become the national leader in the quest to defeat pancreatic cancer. PanCAN fulfills its mission through a comprehensive strategy that combines directly funding research, generating public policy, providing patient services, and extending community outreach and education nationwide. The organization stands as a beacon of hope for the pancreatic cancer community by providing leadership and unity in the urgent fight to find a cure.”
Dr. Randy Pausch is a Carnegie Melon University professor and a Pancreatic Cancer patient. Last month he visited Capitol Hill to testify before members of Congress on behalf of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Please take a few minutes to watch his moving and compelling testimony.