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Combating cancer

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 7:34 p.m.

Imagine being diagnosed with a disease that would likely take your life in a year or less. Unfortunately, this is the reality for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as 74 percent of patients die within one year of diagnosis. The disease has a five-year survival rate of just 6 percent, the lowest among major cancers.

What's worse is that there has been little progress in detecting and treating pancreatic cancer. Since the passage of the National Cancer Act more than 40 years ago, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has only improved from 2 percent to 6 percent. By comparison, the five-year survival rate for all cancers currently stands at an impressive 67 percent.

Pancreatic cancer is unique and requires specific action. The disease is so deadly because there are no early detection methods to diagnose it in its early stages, and there are no effective treatment options to treat the disease once it's been diagnosed.

After seeing how fast this monster cancer took my mother in only two months after diagnosis, I knew I couldn't just sit back and accept this as the way things have to remain. My mother always taught me to fight for what I believe in, and it's in her memory that I've been doing just that for the past six years.

Fortunately, there is hope. Congress is debating the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/H.R.733), which would require the National Cancer Institute to create a long-term and comprehensive strategic plan to address pancreatic cancer with the goal of improving early detection methods and developing new treatment options.

If Congress gets behind this bill, pancreatic cancer patients will finally have more options and ultimately more hope.

Donna Hager

Uniontown

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