Matzie resolution highlights fight against pancreatic cancer

HARRISBURG, Oct. 26 – The House last week unanimously adopted state Rep. Rob Matzie’s resolution to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer – a disease that kills approximately 47,000 Americans each year.

Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said he introduced H.R. 1045, designating November 2020 as “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania, to draw attention to a disease that often evades detection until it is too advanced to treat.

“I introduce this resolution every year because we need to keep talking about pancreatic cancer until survival is the rule, not the exception,” Matzie said. “My connection to this disease is deeply personal – my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about six years ago. After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, she survived. Sadly, her story is not typical for most of the 57,000 Americans diagnosed every year.

“There is cause for hope, however. Although we have yet to see a breakthrough, the statistics on survival are slowly climbing. Between 2014 and 2020, the five-year survival rate increased from 6% to 10%. The progress happens because of research. As more clinical trials take place, the number of survivor stories grows, and so do the people who live to tell them.

“What can we do now? We can learn the symptoms and risk factors for pancreatic cancer and make sure family and friends know them. We can volunteer, support research efforts, and participate in events like the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Purple Stride. And we can keep fighting until more patients face a genuine chance for survival.”  

Matzie said symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include jaundice, back or abdominal pain, weight loss, stool changes, nausea, pancreatitis and recent-onset diabetes. Controllable risk factors for the disease include smoking, obesity, heavy alcohol use, and a diet with too many red and processed meats.