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The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama on January 3, 2013. This landmark legislation, included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, requires the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop scientific frameworks for addressing cancers with survival rates of less than 50%, with first priority attention to lung and pancreatic cancers. The framework must be sent to Congress within 18 months.
This legislation represents a compromise worked out between the Congress and the administration on the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act and Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act.
One of our first priorities after establishing our new headquarters in Washington, DC in 2005 was to call upon lawmakers to make lung cancer a national public health priority.
We knew that in order to be successful we would need bipartisan support – both Republican and Democratic backing -- as well as support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate (bi-cameral).
We are proud to share that we achieved both standards and have been fortunate to introduce bi-partisan bi-cameral legislation in the last three Congressescalling for a more compassionate and comprehensive plan to address all aspects of lung cancer. We are also pleased to report that the number of elected leaders backing our legislative call to action on lung cancer continues to gain in strength and numbers.
The legislation authorizes the research agencies of government within the Departments of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a comprehensive plan of action to coordinate prevention, early detection and treatment research so that the mortality rate of lung cancer can be reduced by 50% by 2020. Annual reports on progress and benchmarks must be submitted to Congress. Funding would be dependent on the scope and quality of the plan and the achievements of the benchmarks.
The legislation also authorizes a low-dose CT screening demonstration program. In November 2010, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) was terminated having met its endpoint of at least a 20.3% mortality benefit in the CT arm over the chest x-ray arm just three years after the third and final screening round.
The imaging and clinical management of lung cancer has continued to improve since the NLST was closed to accrual in 2006 and recently published reports indicate that the benefit of CT screening may be twice as great. Since lung cancer is the cause of nearly one in every three cancer deaths, and the leading cause of Medicare cancer costs, the immediate challenge is to define the most effective, safe, equitable and efficient process for maximizing the potential public health benefit and determining the most effective, equitable, safe and cost efficient protocol.
The legislation is currently pending in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee and in the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee.