Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., urges Congress to fund pancreatic cancer research

Hundreds of PanCAN volunteers gather on Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day 2018.

Taking a strong stance on the importance of investing in medical research to fight cancer and other diseases, Congress approved today the combined Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) bill in a bipartisan manner.

This approval marks the first time in more than two decades that Congress has passed a LHHS Appropriations bill before the government’s fiscal year comes to an end on Sept. 30.

The fiscal year 2019 funding package includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as a $179.1 million increase for the National Cancer Institute.

While the majority of the federal government’s investment in pancreatic cancer research funding comes from the NIH, once again pancreatic cancer is also eligible for funding through the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program. Congress appropriated a $10 million increase to the program.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) thousands of advocates played an important role in the funding increases, and the organization is grateful for Congress’ swift approval of the funding package.

By making their voices heard on Advocacy Day and taking action throughout the year, PanCAN’s advocates worked diligently to ensure their congressional representatives understood the importance federal funding plays in pancreatic cancer research. The grassroots army showed how cancer research is a year-round activity that does not work on a fiscal year calendar.

“We are grateful to our champions in Congress and congressional leadership who worked across the aisle to pass the combined Defense-LHHS 2019 funding package before the end of the fiscal year,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of PanCAN.

“Our federal legislators continue to provide robust increases for medical research leading to better treatment options and longer lives for our patients.”

Nearly 80 percent of all pancreatic cancer research funding comes from the federal government, which gives PanCAN’s advocates a huge reason to celebrate this funding approval.

“Our advocates work tirelessly all year long to ensure Congress is aware of the crucial impact federal research funding has on pancreatic cancer patients and their families. We are thrilled that Congress heard them and took action,” Fleshman continued.

In 2018, an estimated 55,440 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 44,330 will die from the disease. Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

There is currently no early detection strategy and no treatment options that offer a cure. The need to accelerate research is critical for a disease with a survival rate in the single digits at just 9 percent.

Pancreatic cancer patients and their families deserve better treatments and outcomes. Make a donation today, or find out how to become a PanCAN advocate.