Recognizing Her Misunderstood Cancer
On Sunday evening, March 10 at 9 pm ET, CBS and CBS All Access will air the tribute concert to Aretha Franklin titled“Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul.” This star-studded concert hosted by Tyler Perry and held in Los Angeles in January at the Shrine Auditorium pays tribute to Ms. Franklin, who died in August from a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, a rare form of cancer.
At the time of Ms. Franklin’s death, her cause of death was mistakenly reported by many organizations as “pancreatic cancer.” This misidentification adds to the confusion and misinformation about neuroendocrine cancer.
“Early detection, accurate diagnosis, and treatment are essential for people to manage neuroendocrine tumors successfully,” said Elyse Gellerman, NETRF chief executive officer. “This televised concert offers us an important opportunity to talk about NETs so that more people recognize the symptoms, risk factors and are able to intervene earlier and seek specialized treatment.”
NETs are considered a rare type of cancer, affecting approximately 171,000 Americans, and are most common in the pancreas, intestine, or lung. Progress in treating NETs is hampered by a lack of awareness on the part of patients, as well as many care providers. This lack of awareness can lead to severe challenges for those trying to get a diagnosis:
- 1 in 2 U.S. patients is misdiagnosed.
- 1 in 3 U.S. patients had symptoms for 5 years before being diagnosed.
- More than half had advanced or metastatic disease upon diagnosis.
According to Ms. Gellerman, though unintended, media mislabeling of high-profile cases of NETs as in Ms. Franklin’s case further contributes to the misinformation and misconceptions of neuroendocrine cancer to the potential detriment of NET patients. For while pancreatic NET has an overall five-year survival rate of 54 percent; the survival rate rises to 94 percent when detected early.
“Ms. Franklin was a true American original as evidenced by the many all-star artists who will be honoring her many accomplishments,” said Ms. Gellerman. “She brought hope through music to so many throughout the world. We at NETRF strive every day to continue her mission of hope by aggressively funding innovative NET research around the globe and providing support to patients and families who are living with this disease.”
The Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF) is the largest private funder of NET research. Since 2005, NETRF has funded 22 projects to study pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and seek better treatments, part of a $22 million total investment in NET research.