Thanks to thousands in the ECAN family, for the first time in history, Esophageal Cancer has been included in a multi-million dollar cancer research fund controlled by Congress.  ECAN supporters throughout the nation sent letters, made phone calls and signed petitions this year to show how much increased research funding matters to them.

The result is something we were told ECAN would not be able to do.  In ECAN’s first year of attempting to get Esophageal Cancer included in the Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) of the Department of Defense, we gained the support we needed in both chambers of Congress – and the measure was signed into law by the President in December of 2019! 

That means researchers studying Esophageal Cancer are eligible to apply for grants from a program with $110 million in funding for 2020!  ECAN is working hard to make sure researchers are aware of the funding opportunity for 2020 and has already begun working to make sure Esophageal Cancer is included in the program in 2021.

ECAN is grateful to our champions in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA).  They authored a letter to the chairs of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and encouraged their colleagues to sign the letter along with them.  In all, more than 20 Members of Congress signed the letter in support of adding Esophageal Cancer to the PRCRP in 2020.   Both DeFazio and Loudermilk have remained steadfast in their support and have authored a letter for keeping Esophageal Cancer in the PRCRP in 2021.  Several members of Congress have already signed this letter.  But we need more supporters.  You can reach out to your elected representative using ECAN’s online platform by clicking here.

Research funding makes a difference. In 2016, the National Cancer Institute spent $1,669 on medical research into Esophageal Cancer for each death due to this devastating disease. It amounted to just one-half of a percent of the total federal cancer research budget. But Esophageal Cancer is responsible for 2.6% of all of the cancer deaths in this country.

Compare that to the $12,802 spent that year on breast cancer research for every death caused by that terrible disease. Breast cancer funding accounted for 9.9% of the Federal cancer research budget then. Breast cancer causes 6.8% of all U.S. cancer deaths, even though many more are diagnosed with the disease.

A breast cancer diagnosis used to be viewed as a death sentence – today its survival rate is 89.7%. The survival rate for Esophageal Cancer is 20%.  This shows what a difference research funding can make!