Imagine being diagnosed with a disease that would likely take your life in a year or less. Unfortunately, this is the reality for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as 74 percent of patients die within one year of diagnosis. Sadly, the disease has a five-year survival rate in the single digits of just six percent, the lowest among major cancers.
What is worse is that there has been little progress in detecting and treating pancreatic cancer. Since the passage of the National Cancer Act over forty years ago, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has only improved from two to six percent. By comparison, the five-year survival rate for all cancers currently stands at an impressive 67 percent.
Pancreatic cancer is unique and requires specific action. The disease is so deadly because there are no early detection methods to diagnose the disease in its early stages and there are no effective treatment options to treat the disease once it’s been diagnosed.
My father passed away on July 27 from pancreatic cancer. He was undiagnosed for three years. I watched him suffer in excruciating pain. No one deserves to live like that.
Fortunately, there is hope. Congress is currently debating the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/H.R.733), which would require the National Cancer Institute to create a long-term and comprehensive strategic plan to address pancreatic cancer with the goal of improving early detection methods and developing new treatment options. If Congress gets behind this bill, pancreatic cancer patients will finally have more options, and ultimately more hope.