Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day highlights awareness

WASHINGTON — Pancreatic cancer is a ruthless killer — the fourth -leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. And it’s predicted to become the nation’s second-deadliest form of cancer by 2020.

“There are no early warning signs and there are no tests for pancreatic cancer,” says Ralph Cheney, from Monticello, New York. That’s what makes it so deadly — once it’s diagnosed, it’s too far along. Cheney is a 10-year pancreatic cancer survivor, which, he says, is nearly unheard of.

This year more 46,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 75 percent of them will die in the first year. Only six percent of patients survive it — the lowest survival rate of any major form of cancer.

But one group is pressuring Congress to help change these statistics. Tuesday is Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day, and Ralph Cheney; his wife, Mariann Cheney; and nearly 500 advocates are heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to try to save lives.

They are fighting for research funding, which is part of a bill — the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act — that became law last year. The research money would help develop early-detection tests and new treatments.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has been pushing for more federal funding to improve the survival rates for patients with this form of cancer.

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