This year approximately 44,030 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and almost an equal number will die from it. Cancer of the pancreas is the fourth leading cause of cancer death among men and third leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States, and has the #1 mortality rate of all cancers (99%). There is no early detection test, treatment is limited, and there is no cure. The average life expectancy after a diagnosis of metastatic pancreatic cancer is just 3 to 6 months.
Despite the especially lethal nature of this disease, the federal government invests less money in pancreatic cancer research than in any other cancer. The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) cancer research budget for 2009 was $4.97 billion. Of this, only an estimated $89.7 million was spent on pancreatic cancer research - a mere 1.8% of the NCI’s total cancer research budget! Experience in AIDS, breast cancer, and prostate cancer have shown us that bringing both new awareness and new funding can have an enormous impact - that is our goal for pancreatic cancer.
The recent death of Steve Jobs (10/5/11) along with the deaths of Patrick Swayze (9/14/09), Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (7/25/08) and Luciano Pavarotti (9/6/07) have given this dreaded disease much needed public attention. Many other familiar faces have died from pancreatic cancer, including: Jack Benny, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Art Fleming, Dizzy Gillespie, Fred Gwynne, Rex Harrison, Fernando Lamas, Michael Landon, Henry Mancini, Marcello Mastroianni, Margaret Mead, Paul Mitchell, Juliet Prowse, Donna Reed, Charles Revson, R.J. Reynolds and Irving Wallace.
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