Sequestration would reduce federal funding for cancer research to 2008 levels, hampering future progress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feb. 5, 2013 –The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) today released a new report, “Catalyst for Cures: How Federally Funded Cancer Research Saves Lives,” that underscores the threat posed by sequestration to future progress in the fight to end death and suffering related to cancer.
The report focuses on the impact of federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in driving new discovery in laboratories and cancer research centers across the country. Highlighting federally funded scientists and collaborative work, the report documents progress in the fight against specific cancers, including breast cancer, melanoma and lung cancer – such as Gleevac®, which can repress the symptoms of leukemia to such a degree that Manny Ortiz of Woburn, Mass. ran the Boston Marathon while undergoing treatment.
“Sequestration could cost us a decade of progress in medical research leaving the next breakthroughs in the fight to defeat cancer to languish in the labs,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of ACS CAN. “Lawmakers should act to avoid these indiscriminate cuts and make the fight to defeat a disease that still kills 1,500 people a day in this country a national priority.”
Future discoveries hang in the balance if sequestration takes effect. Unless Congress averts the across-the-board cuts, federal funding for NIH and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) would revert to 2008 levels.
“For decades, research funded by the NIH and the NCI has played a role in every major cancer prevention, detection and treatment advance, while also delivering scientific breakthroughs for many other diseases,” said Christopher W. Hansen, president of the ACS CAN. “But, resting on past progress is a dangerous proposition with 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women still expected to be diagnosed with cancer in his or her lifetime.”
Lisa Bender of Minneapolis, MN, featured in the report, credits the development of genetically targeted treatments with helping her to survive stage II breast cancer after being diagnosed three months into her pregnancy, and then giving her the ability to care for her newborn daughter.
“Cancer research produced my miracle drug,” Bender said. “With the least impact on my quality of life, the drug doubled my chances of survival to see my baby girl grow up.”
Past research is responsible in part for the overall cancer death rate declining by 20 percent in the U.S. from its peak in 1991 through 2009 – saving 400 lives a day that were previously being lost to cancer. As the single-largest funder of cancer research, the federal government has a critical role to play in promoting advances in early detection and treatment of chronic diseases like cancer. Reducing the investment would drastically hamper the nation’s ability to make further progress in a disease that is expected to kill more than 570,000 Americans this year alone.
The report illustrates that investment in cancer research is also a tremendous driver in the American economy – supporting nearly 433,000 jobs in every state at universities and cancer centers across the country.
More than 13.7 million cancer survivors are alive today thanks to advances in early detection tests that can detect cancer when it’s easier to treat and survive, and treatments that attack only cancer cells, rather than attacking a patient’s healthy cells as well.
ACS CAN is urging lawmakers to avoid a mindless cut and sustain federal funding for research in a way that will leverage past progress and spur future discovery.
The report can be found at www.acscan.org/researchreport.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.
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