Despite stomach cancer killing more than 11,000 Americans within a year of diagnosis, research into the disease is severely under-funded, says Andrea Eidelman, Chief Executive Officer at Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer (DDF).
She adds that the condition receives one of the smallest amounts of federal funding of all cancers.
The foundation, which trains and supports patients to attend annual advocacy days, has worked hard to raise the profile of stomach cancer among policy leaders. But much more needs to be done, she adds.
“During our advocacy days, which in 2020 took place on February 10 and 11, we go to Capitol Hill and advocate for increased federal funding,” she explains.
“It’s always been a surprise when people come back from advocacy meetings and discuss how little their legislators know about stomach cancer. Often, they have never met anyone with stomach cancer or even heard about it.”
Inclusion in federal research programs
“This is even more worrying given that the veteran population has a higher risk of stomach cancer,” says Andrea. “Our advocacy efforts have resulted in stomach cancer being included in the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP), which makes us eligible to be one of the cancers to receive federal funding.”
Since the inception of DDF in 2009, it has issued research grants totaling $1 million and inclusion in the PRCRP has directed $18 million to stomach cancer research.
“Last year, we lost so many young people that had been connected to the foundation,” Andrea says. “There’s such a high level of frustration in our community – in our patient community and in our caregiver community – because what people want more than ever is to stop losing lives to this disease.”
“I think the science needs to catch up and to do that we need to put money into research so that we can have better treatment options for the disease. That’s number one,” she notes. Making this vision a reality relies on raising awareness of the condition among the general public, policymakers, and legislators alike.