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Breakthrough At Last: Congress Approves $20 Million For New Lung Cancer Research Program

Washington, D.C. [September 27, 2008] - Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) announced today that Congress approved $20 million for a new lung cancer research program at the Department of Defense (DOD) - a top LCA priority.

The president is expected to sign the bill containing the new lung cancer research program and the funding will be available in fiscal year 2009 which begins October 1.

“This is our top priority; this is the turning point.  It is a breakthrough that lung cancer patients, their families and caregivers have been waiting for,” said Laurie Fenton-Ambrose, LCA President & CEO.  “By setting up this new program, Congress is finally acknowledging that the situation is urgent and that more research must be focused on lung cancer which is causing more deaths each year than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.”

Over 215,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States in 2008 and the majority will die in less than a year.

The new program, entitled the Peer Reviewed Lung Cancer Research Program, will be administered and funded by the DOD.

Former Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, a member of the LCA Board of Directors and a lung cancer survivor, said that DOD is “mission-oriented” and that the department’s vast experience with cutting edge technology will accelerate improvements in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

Congress started funding cancer research programs through DOD in the mid-nineties with a $25 million appropriation for breast cancer. Over the years a number of research programs have been added for other cancers, but not lung cancer - until this breakthrough.  

Fenton-Ambrose praised Congressman John P. Murtha (D-PA) and Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) for their leadership and commitment on the issue.

The legislation specifically notes that lung cancer is the most lethal of all cancers, taking more lives each year than all other major cancers combined, and that military personnel have heightened exposure to lung cancer carcinogens.

“Priority shall be given to the development of the integrated components to identify, treat and manage early curable lung cancer,” it states.

The bill requires the Army to provide a plan for how the $20 million will be spent and submit that plan to Congress within 120 days after the President signs the bill.

“We are also deeply indebted to our late Chairman of the Board Admiral Philip J. Coady who made this his last mission before his death in June,” said Fenton-Ambrose. “We commit to his memory and to the memory of the many patient advocates who have died in the course of this effort that we will be vigilant in watching this program, and making sure that every dollar is spent wisely and effectively.”

To read the DOD line item language, click here.