2012-12-27 / News

Senate bill will focus on low-survival cancers

The U.S. Senate last week passed the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, sending the bill to President Barack Obama to sign into law. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, which will support the coordination of research on cancers that have persistently low survival rates, was included as an amendment to the authorization act.

“I hope this legislation will help to secure a brighter future for patients suffering from recalcitrant cancers like lung cancer and pancreatic cancer,” said Whitehouse, whose mother died of pancreatic cancer.

The research act would direct the National Cancer Institute to work with federal and nonfederal representatives to develop scientifi c frameworks for assessing and advancing research on cancers with five-year survival rates below 50 percent. Advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of socalled recalcitrant cancers, such as cancer of the pancreas, lung, liver or ovaries, have lagged behind the overall gains made in fighting the disease in recent years.

For lung cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer in the United States, the fiveyear relative survival rate is less than 16 percent, despite the survival rates for all cancers improving from 50 to 67 percent over the past 40 years. For pancreatic cancer, the survival rate remains at 6 percent.

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