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Pancreatic cancer needs to be addressed

Posted: June 10, 2011 - 8:48am

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the cancers tracked by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that still has a five-year survival rate in the single digits (6 percent). There are no early detection tools and no effective treatments. Despite these facts, the federal government has no long-term comprehensive research strategy to combat pancreatic cancer.

The best way to fight this disease and change the status quo is to pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/H.R. 733). The bill would require the NCI to develop a long-term comprehensive strategic plan to combat the disease. I am grateful that our very own Sen. Mark Begich is a co-sponsor of this critical legislation. Not all of our representatives in Congress though have signed on to the bill yet.

Madeline Jones, of Anchorage, will join me and nearly 600 other concerned citizens from across the country in Washington D.C., on June 13 and 14, for the fifth annual Advocacy Day to meet with Members of Congress and encourage them to pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act. We are participating because I lost my father, David Shew, Sr., to pancreatic cancer in February 2011.  He was diagnosed in March 2010 at age 65 and passed away a week before his 66th birthday in February 2011.

I would encourage everyone to join me and thousands of other pancreatic cancer advocates from across the country on June 14 for a National Call-In to Congress asking that they co-sponsor the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act. Go to to learn more.

Together, we can make a difference in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

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k.winger 06/10/11 - 01:44 pm
Support for the PCR&E Act encouraged.

Almost anyone that you talk to knows someone who has been afflicted with this particular form of cancer, which leads me to believe that it's occurance is on the rise. I personally know three people that were diagnosed with it, two that have won their battle against it and sadly, one who rapidly lost his. Oddly enough, they were all men. I don't think that this is coincidence.
There definately needs to be more research to discover what in our environment is causing the rise in Pancreatic Cancer, and why it seems that men are more likely to be diagnosed with it. Only then can steps be taken to help prevent others from suffering from this horrendous and aggressive disease and how to best treat it. The lack of effective treatment here even drove some of my friends to seek treatment in other countries.
Kudos to Mr. Begich for his co-sponsorship of this bill. Count me in for the National Call-in to Congress on June 14th. And I would recommend that all of you that have read Ms. Dowling's letter today, tell or email at least five friends that may not have heard about the call-in day, to help get the word out.

akmscott 08/14/11 - 08:18 am
I tend to believe that cancer

I tend to believe that cancer is being addressed.Individualizing each cancer does nothing.It's been worked onand will continue to be worked on.

AKMaineIac 09/20/11 - 10:03 am
Pancreatic cancer

It's a bugger of a disease, that's for sure. Usually diagnosed far too late in the course of development for simple resection and a bout of chemo. It generally results in death, optimistically within 5 years of discovery even for people who have a resection and "do away with" the cancerous tissue.

Cancer, generally, is never a good thing to hear at the doctor's office. I as well, believe it is all being worked on at every level. Of course, where we need to work on it the most, we are failing.

"Risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer include smoking, a high-fat diet, exposure to certain chemicals, obesity, diabetes, cirrhosis, and chronic pancreatitis (ACS, 2008; National Comprehensive Cancer Network [NCCN], 2008)."

If we moderate our diets, limit alcohol, don't smoke, and get some exercise to maintain a normal bodyweight, the incidence of all cancers would decrease markedly, as would the suffering of those with it. I've observed many patients being treated for various kinds of cancer... "treat" is not a work I would use to describe most of it. Surgery, body and function altering surgery, along with radiation and chemotherapy which, if you gave them to a healthy person might actually cause their death it could make them so sick. The idea, in a nutshell, is to kill the cancer by making the body a hostile environment to it... a delicate balancing act.

Ben Franklin said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." No truer words were ever spoken.

Some perspective, however. It was stated that "everybody knows someone". I disagree with the assessment. We've all likely heard of someone. About 38,000 people die annually in the US from pancreatic cancer, out of about 300 million. According to:

"1.41% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 71 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas during their lifetime."

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