Eshoo, Whitehouse, Lance: Cancer Research Bill to Become Law

December 21, 2012
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today hailed final passage of their legislation to establish a national recalcitrant cancer initiative to create a strategic plan to target the high mortality rate associated with recalcitrant cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, and give the National Cancer Institute (NCI) the tools it needs for earlier diagnosis, better treatment and hope for a cure. The bill passed the House and Senate as part of the Defense Authorization bill, and it will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

"When a patient is told by their doctor that they have pancreatic cancer, it's essentially a death sentence," Rep. Eshoo said. "Like many other forms of recalcitrant cancers, pancreatic cancer has a near zero survival rate. We can do better to increase the survival rate of recalcitrant cancers. This new law will help us achieve that goal."

"I hope this legislation will help to secure a brighter future for patients suffering from recalcitrant cancers like lung cancer and pancreatic cancer," said Whitehouse, whose mother died of pancreatic cancer. "I've met with too many Rhode Islanders who have lost a loved one to these deadly cancers. On their behalf, I thank all of my colleagues for supporting this common-sense bill, and I look forward to having the President sign it into law."

"I am very pleased that this important cancer research legislation received final congressional approval and is so close to becoming the law of the land. This bill will go a long way toward improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers with high mortality rates, and I am hopeful that President Obama will quickly sign this legislation into law," said Congressman Lance.

"The passage of this bill is a milestone in the history of pancreatic cancer. This is the first substantive legislation for this disease. On behalf of the entire pancreatic cancer community, we commend Congress for passing the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act and are deeply grateful for the leadership and continued support of all of the bill's champions, Representatives Anna Eshoo and Leonard Lance and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse," said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "This moment would not have been possible if it wasn't for their dedication and the incredible commitment and hard work of our volunteer network."

Rep. Eshoo first introduced the bill in 2007 to honor the memory of her dear friend Ambassador Richard Sklar, who was a victim of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease with only a 6 percent survival rate of longer than five years—75 percent of those diagnosed die within a year. As the survival rates of other types of cancer have increased, pancreatic and other forms of recalcitrant cancers are still some of the most lethal.

The new law will apply to all recalcitrant cancers, those cancers with a high mortality rate and few treatment options. It directs the NCI to begin their strategic plans with pancreatic and lung cancers.