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Pancreatic Cancer Advocates Call on Congress to Protect Medical Research Funding From Sequestration Cuts

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., June 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 550 people from across the country, including nearly 100 pancreatic cancer survivors, will participate in the Seventh Annual Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day on June 18, 2013 to thank Congress for passing the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act and tell them that their fight isn't over. Advocates from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will call on Congress to support a permanent fix to sequestration and provide sustained adequate funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). 


"We are extremely grateful to Congress for passing the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act and to President Obama for signing the bill into law, but our work is far from over. Unfortunately, due to the sequestration cuts to NCI and NIH, the progress made possible by passing this bill is currently in jeopardy," said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  "Continued strong support of federal funding for medical research is not only critical to curing diseases like pancreatic cancer, but is also important for the continued growth of our economy.  On Advocacy Day, we will tell Congress to issue a cease and desist order on the cuts to our nation's medical research enterprise so that we can get back to the business of saving lives."

The five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just six percent – 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.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has long advocated for ensuring that there is a national strategic plan and accountability for making progress on pancreatic and other recalcitrant cancers and therefore applauds Congress and President Obama for enacting the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act.  This legislation, which was signed into law on January 2, 2013, calls on the NCI to develop scientific frameworks for pancreatic and lung cancer, which will help provide the strategic direction needed to make true progress in these deadly cancers. 

The pancreatic cancer statistics call for aggressive measures now to develop early detection and treatment tools before incidence dramatically increases, but NCI funding is falling dangerously behind. In fact, over the last decade, NIH has lost approximately 20 percent of its purchasing power because funding has not kept pace with the rate of medical inflation. Added to that, the NCI budget for FY 2013 was cut by 5.8 percent, largely as a result of sequestration. For the nation's deadliest cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, the prolonged effects of sequestration over the next decade could be extremely detrimental. Advocates will urge Congress to support a permanent fix for the sequestration and provide sustained adequate cancer research funding to ensure continued innovation in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

"The NIH has been fighting the war against cancer with a shrinking budget for the last decade.  If current funding trends continue over the next decade, we have little hope to see true progress against diseases like pancreatic cancer," added Fleshman. "Furthermore, it will be very difficult to leverage the opportunities that come out of the scientific frameworks developed as a result of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act unless sustained adequate funding is provided to the NIH and NCI. We must save medical research funding that saves lives." 

To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's advocacy efforts, visit

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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Julie Fleshman

SOURCE Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
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