Rick Sain: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
There are times that blog posts are written with longevity in mind, not the effect of an instant reaction. This is one of those posts. A family friend, Rick Sain, died last week after a brief one month fight with pancreatic cancer. I didn’t know him very well; I remember him vaguely from years ago. He was a good friend of my dad’s and he recently commented several times on this website. His name is important in that it puts a face to a worthy cause for anybody who happens to search his name and finds themselves here reading this article. It’s a funny thing about the internet – it can be used by trolls who lack English skills and common courtesy. It can also sometimes do good things. Over time, this post will gain strength and start ranking on Rick’s name. That will give me the opportunity to send them to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The sole purpose of this post is to memorialize Rick Sain by linking his name with an organization that does good in the world. I took all of 20 minutes to do this for Rick. I’m not pretending it’s earth shattering, but isn’t something better than nothing? A lot of somethings add up.
Pancreatic Cancer Facts (as copied from the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, H.R 745):
An estimated 42,470 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009, and over 35,240 will die from the disease.
The incidence among African-Americans is 40 to 50 percent higher than other ethnic groups.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over the past 30 years. As a result, in 2003, pancreatic cancer surpassed prostate cancer as the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
Seventy-five percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first 12 months of the diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate is 5 percent.
Scientific understanding of pancreatic cancer–its etiology, pathogenesis, detection, and treatment–lags far behind that of most other forms of cancer. In fact, pancreatic cancer research is where breast cancer research was in the 1930s–little understanding of the causes, no early detection, few effective treatments, and single-digit survival rates.
In 2001, the National Cancer Institute developed `Pancreatic Cancer: An Agenda for Action’. Seven years later, only five of the report’s 39 recommendations have been implemented because of a lack of funding, focus, and commitment. In the meantime, pancreatic cancer death rates have continued to increase.
Pancreatic cancer research constitutes less than 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s Federal research funding, a figure far too low given the severity of the disease, its mortality rate, and how little is known about how to arrest the disease.
Of the more than 5,000 research grants awarded by the Nations Cancer Institute in 2006, only 134 (3 percent) were categorized by the Institute as at least 50 percent relevant to pancreatic cancer research.
The future supply of scientists entering this field of study is in serious jeopardy. There are currently fewer than 58 principal investigators who have multiple grants or a primary career focus on pancreatic cancer. Further, in the last 3 years, the National Cancer Institute has awarded only 5 grants for training and supporting young principal investigators in pancreatic cancer.