What do Joan Crawford, Luciano Pavarotti and Patrick Swayze all have in common?
They all died from pancreatic cancer, a silent killer that will affect more than 43,000 people this year. What’s worse is that nearly 37,000 of those people will die this year. In other words, if you are diagnosed with this disease, your chances of survival are slim. Only 6 percent of patients will survive more than five years. It is one of the few cancers for which the survival rate has not improved substantially in nearly 40 years.
Unlike other cancers, there are no early detection methods for pancreatic cancer. And since the symptoms (abdominal or back pain, weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, etc.) and risk factors (family history, smoking, diabetes, age) are so vague, doctors usually aren't able to diagnose the condition until it is in its final stages. By that point, patients are typically given three to six months to live.
So why am I blogging about this devastating disease today? November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is asking folks to support a bipartisan bill (the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act, S. 3320/H.R. 745) that would compel the National Cancer Institute to develop a strategic plan to fight pancreatic cancer and provide patients with a better chance for survival.
Here's Lisa Swayze talking about how this bill would honor her husband, Patrick: