Today, stomach and esophageal cancers are treated as orphan diseases despite their prevalence and deadliness. Together, more than 1.3 million people will be diagnosed with an upper GI malignancy annually. These are aggressive cancers with high mortality rates. Despite aggressive treatments like the removal of the stomach or esophagus, chemotherapy and radiation, five year survival rates remain dismal at around 15%. To make matters worse, there are no high profile advocacy groups that garner interest in these diseases in the United States. This has resulted in little funding to support research on these deadly cancers, which has meant minimal progress being made in their prevention or improvement in survival once diagnosed.
DFF was founded in 2006 after a tenth member of the DeGregorio family succumbed to stomach cancer and was found to have possessed a rare gene that causes the disease and other common cancers. Her surviving siblings, who both tested negative for the gene, created the Foundation to raise funds for research on the hereditary and non-hereditary varieties of stomach and esophageal cancer. Since its inception, the Foundation has made tremendous progress in providing the private support needed to learn more about these cancers, which has had an enormous global impact.
The scope and depth of the current research to improve our understanding of the biology and etiology of stomach and esophageal related malignancies does not match the enormous global impact of these diseases. The field is in desperate need of, and is ripe for, medical advancement. The purpose of DFF is to monetarily support research and education and to encourage collaboration amongst researchers in order to facilitate earlier diagnosis and novel treatment therapies for stomach and esophageal cancer related disorders. DFF seeks to shift the tide and strive towards the goal of containment and treatment of these cancers.