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Congressman Carson Works to Prevent Pancreatic Cancer Through Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act

Jul 21, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman André Carson (D-IN) lauded the House’s passage of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes an amendment he authored that will authorize five million dollars for a pancreatic cancer early detection initiative (EDI) at the Department of Defense (DoD). The provision will provide critical funding needed for more research and an early detection initiative (EDI) under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) at DoD. 

“I want to thank my House colleagues for supporting this amendment, which will help our nation better fight pancreatic cancer and save lives. I am also thankful for the support of increased funding for this effort from the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and Chairman Visclosky,” Congressman Carson said.

“The recent passing of Rep. John Lewis -- the Conscience of the Congress -- from this aggressive illness reminds us all why it is critical that we ramp up our efforts to detect pancreatic cancer earlier. His short but courageous fight against the disease inspired my amendment. I was also inspired by my colleague, Rep. Alcee Hastings, who is currently battling this cancer. Congressman Lewis always encouraged us to do more to fight the injustices of the world. Despite being the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and disproportionately affecting people of color, there is still no dedicated early-detection initiative for pancreatic cancer. That is a clear injustice that we must end." 

If diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is above eighty percent. However, if pancreatic cancer is detected late, the five-year survival rate drops to less than five percent. Moreover, existing health care inequities and disparities for communities of color compound the devastation of pancreatic cancer and the effects of lack of early detection research. Rep. Carson’s amendment will empower America’s researchers to find new ways to detect pancreatic cancer early, which will help to make this disease less deadly and lessen disparities in care. 

“At a time when our country is having a national conversation about the persistent inequalities in access to health care for Black and Brown people during a global pandemic, Congress must do everything within our power to improve health outcomes through research and treatment,” Rep. Carson added. “Providing dedicated funding for early detection research at DoD will help fill a critical gap in our pancreatic cancer research and will help address the pancreatic cancer disparities for communities of color. This is one of many steps we must take to help build 'the Beloved Community' that Rep. Lewis and his mentor Dr. King spent their lives striving to achieve. I’m extremely pleased that through my amendment and other vital provisions, this year’s NDAA will help improve fairness and justice in our military and across America.”  

In addition to Rep. Carson’s amendment, this year’s NDAA includes other strong provisions that will strengthen America’s security and well-being. They include the creation of a billion-dollar Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, stronger efforts to reduce racial and gender discrimination in our armed forces, further restrictions to prevent President Trump from using military resources to enforce unlawful immigration policies on the Southern Border, and much more.


For an expanded summary of the NDAA, please click here.


To read Rep. Carson’s Statement for the Record on his amendment, please click here.