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Aretha Franklin's estate funding pancreatic cancer research

The late soul legend died in August 2018 at the age of 76 after a battle with a neuroendocrine tumour (NET) on the pancreas, which occurs in only 7% of pancreatic cancer cases.

FILE: In this file photo taken on 7 December 2015 singer Aretha Franklin poses on the red carpet before the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, DC. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Aretha Franklin's estate is helping to fund new research into pancreatic cancer, one year after the singer's death from the disease.

The late soul legend died in August 2018 at the age of 76 after a battle with a neuroendocrine tumour (NET) on the pancreas, which occurs in only 7% of pancreatic cancer cases, and her estate has held a joint benefit with Detroit's Women's Informal Network to raise money for the Boston-based Neuroendocrine Tumour Research Foundation (NETRF).

According to the Detroit Free Press, Sabrina Owens, Franklin's niece said in a statement: "The Aretha Franklin Family is honoured to partner with the NETRF to help raise funding for education and research of this devastating disease that takes our loved ones much too soon. We encourage her friends, fans, and supporters to consider contributing to this cause, until such time as we can eradicate NETs. We believe this is possible."

Elyse Gellerman, chief executive officer of NETRF, added: "A lot of the work we fund is basic science in the laboratory, learning why these tumours grow and spread. We don't know all the answers about that. Researchers are trying to understand these tumours at a cellular level and - with some of the treatments available - why some patients respond and others do not. I know the neuroendocrine tumours community was frustrated when the cause of Aretha Franklin's death wasn't correctly reported."

The singer's oncologist Dr Philip A. Philip said: "The time that people have with this disease is measured in years, not in fractions of years or months, as it is with most patients (who have the more common) pancreatic adenocarcinoma."

Franklin's death from pancreatic cancer was confirmed by the singer's long-time publicist Gwendolyn Quinn last year.

She said in a statement: "Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit ... In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family."

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