(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an edited press release from www.pancan.org.)
The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, formerly known as the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act, passed Congress last month as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and will now be sent to President Obama to sign into law. The legislation requires the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to evaluate its current efforts in studying pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and other recalcitrant cancers, and focus on ways to improve outcomes.
“The passage of this bill is a milestone in the history of pancreatic cancer. This is the first substantive legislation for this disease. On behalf of the entire pancreatic cancer community, we commend Congress for passing the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act and are deeply grateful for the leadership and continued support of all of the bill sponsors including Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI),” said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “This moment would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the incredible commitment and hard work of our volunteer network. Our tireless advocates wrote letters, made phone calls and even traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for this landmark legislation. Though we still have a lot of work to do before reaching our goal to double the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020, the bill’s passage is an important step.”
“We are hopeful that President Obama will quickly sign this legislation into law so the NCI can get to work right away on a plan to fight pancreatic cancer and other deadly diseases.”
One Acton family's efforts played an key part into making the bill into law.
"Alison, Rosemary and Grace (Takacs of Acton) have been an integral part of this forward progress, and our success in having this bill passed is amazing," said Michele Wood, volunteer, Boston affiliate, and media representative of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "In just 6 years we were able to accomplish what many never can."
Alison and her two daughters have been active in spreading information about pancreatic cancer by raising money for research and lobbying state officials for legislative changes.
The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act will require the NCI to convene working groups to develop scientific frameworks for pancreatic cancer and lung cancer that could then be expanded to other recalcitrant cancers. The frameworks will identify promising scientific advances, assess the sufficiency of qualified researchers working in relevant specialties, outline a plan to coordinate research, and include recommendations to advance research, including appropriate benchmarks for measuring progress. The legislation is a measured and balanced approach that complements ongoing research efforts at the NCI. The bill gives the NCI significant discretion to follow the best science, while encouraging the Institute to rigorously evaluate how existing efforts are, and are not, supporting progress in the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of recalcitrant cancers.
The legislation provides an opportunity to change the future for pancreatic cancer by implementing a plan that will lay the groundwork for the development of early detection methods and effective treatment options, which are currently lacking.
The five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 6 percent, the lowest among all major cancer killers. This year, nearly 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and more than 37,000 will die from the disease. And according to a recently released report, the incidence and death rates for pancreatic cancer are increasing, and pancreatic cancer is anticipated to move from the fourth to second leading cancer killer in the U.S. by 2020, and possibly as early as 2015.
“The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network applauds the Lung Cancer Alliance for their efforts in advocating for the passage of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act. We look forward to partnering with the organization as we work to defeat our nation’s deadliest cancers,” added Fleshman.
To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s advocacy efforts, visit www.knowitfightitendit.org.