Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) announced today a new law aimed at developing better treatments and potential cures for the deadliest of cancers. She was joined by Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Lisa Niemi Swayze, wife of the late Patrick Swayze and Chief Ambassador of Hope for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, in addition to leading cancer research advocates at Stanford University Hospital. Eshoo was recognized by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for her leadership and presented with the Congressional Champion of Hope Award by Fleshman.
Called the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, the new law requires the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to examine its current research efforts on cancers with very low survival rates, including pancreatic and lung cancer, and work to develop early detection methods and better treatment options to improve outcomes. The NCI will develop a long-term plan, or scientific framework, for pancreatic and other recalcitrant cancers to gauge its current efforts in the disease and make recommendations on ways to speed progress. The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act was signed into law by President Obama as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act on January 3, 2013.
Rep. Eshoo authored and first introduced the legislation five years ago in honor of her friend, Ambassador Richard Sklar, a victim of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer, and many other recalcitrant cancers like it, is a devastating disease with few survivors. Only six percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live longer than five years, and 74 percent of patients die within a year of diagnosis.
"We've made great strides in treatment options and cures for many types of cancer," Rep. Eshoo said. "But the high mortality rate for recalcitrant cancers has remained steady. To this day, when a patient is diagnosed with a recalcitrant form of cancer, it's as good as a death wish. I believe we can do better, which is why I fought so hard for this legislation."
"My husband Patrick fought courageously against pancreatic cancer before passing away 22 months after his diagnosis. But while pancreatic cancer may have taken him in the end, it never beat him. And for me, just because he's gone doesn't mean this fight is over. I am proud to have continued his battle against pancreatic cancer and being a part of this important victory means everything," said Lisa Niemi Swayze. "I have been incredibly honored to work side-by-side with so many dedicated and passionate pancreatic cancer advocates, and I know that Patrick would be proud too that he was a part of this fight, one that is going to change the outcome for so many future generations. This legislation will provide hope to all those facing this devastating disease."
"The adoption of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act is a historic victory in the fight against deadly cancers--particularly pancreatic cancer--as it is the first legislation designed specifically with the disease in mind. This milestone would not have been possible without the leadership and dedication of Representative Eshoo. We applaud her tremendous effort to get the bill signed into law, along with our other bill champions Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)," said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "This legislation provides hope for pancreatic cancer patients and their loved ones. Today we celebrate this important step, but we do so while honoring the memory of so many people whose lives were cut short by pancreatic cancer."
"All cancer patients hope for cure, or at the very least, treatments to afford them longer quality filled time," said Dr. George Fisher, Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. "When a cure is not available with standard treatments, they hope for breakthroughs in research that may benefit them. This legislation will give our patients with the most difficult cancers a reason to hope for better outcomes by accelerating the science and focusing research efforts on those diseases with the greatest need for improvement."