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LCA Hails Landmark Lung Cancer Legislation

Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act Introduced in US Senate

Washington, D.C. [June 25, 2008]—Today, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) hailed the introduction of legislation that creates the first ever multi-agency, comprehensive program targeted at lung cancer  and authorizes $75 million to start the first phase of the five year program to reduce lung cancer mortality.

“This is the turning point,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, LCA President & CEO in thanking Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for co-sponsoring the historic legislation, the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2008 (.pdf).

Last year both senators authored a policy resolution stating that lung cancer must be treated as a public health priority and addressed with a comprehensive program of research, better treatments and earlier detection in order to reduce its mortality rate by 50% by 2015.

That resolution, which established Senate policy on lung cancer, was passed unanimously last year. The bill introduced today builds on that resolution by establishing the comprehensive program under law and authorizing funding.
Senator Hagel, a Senate leader on lung cancer issues since 2003, said: “The federal government should implement a comprehensive policy to help reduce the mortality rate of lung cancer, which accounts for 28% of all cancer deaths in men and women in the United States.

“We have seen great advancements in prostate and breast cancer survival rates and we must commit ourselves to making the same progress with lung cancer,” he continued.  “We must bring people together and have the resources to fight this insidious disease.

Senator Feinstein, co-chair of the Senate Cancer Caucus and a strong proponent of increased lung cancer research, said:  “It’s time for the federal government to step up its efforts and make fighting lung cancer a national priority.”
“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, but efforts to fund research and innovative new drug therapies have been shortchanged when compared to other cancers. This bill would boost funding and expand research into the causes and treatment of this deadly scourge," she said.

The new bill cites the impact of lung cancer which kills more people each year than breast, prostate, colon, kidney, melanoma and liver cancer--combined.

The Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Defense and Veterans Affairs are required to put together the comprehensive, coordinated plan with funding authorized for five years to accomplish the mortality reduction goal.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is required to review its funding priorities in order to meet the lung cancer mortality reduction goal and more national institutes are called on directly to take part, including the National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood, the National Institute of  Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the National Institute for Environmental Health “Anyone who has researched lung cancer knows that as important as tobacco cessation is, that alone will not eliminate lung cancer," said Fenton Ambrose. She pointed out that 50% of new cases are former smokers and an additional 10 to 15% have never smoked.

One in five women now being diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.

LCA Board Chairman, Rear Admiral Phillip J. Coady, USN (Ret.), a non-smoker diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, called the Feinstein-Hagel bill “the most important legislation ever for lung cancer.”

“This bill defines the goal – a 50% mortality rate reduction by 2015 – and gives the agencies the authority they need to get it done,” he said.

To insure accountability, the bill requires an annual report to Congress and creates an oversight board composed of the three Cabinet Secretaries and representatives from the fields of lung cancer treatment, research and advocacy.

“We are deeply grateful to Senator Feinstein and Senator Hagel,” said Admiral Coady, speaking on behalf of the Board of LCA.

“They have been the leaders in bringing congressional and national attention to lung cancer and what needs to be done,” he said.

“Bottom line,” Adm. Coady added, “it will be up to all of us now who have been affected by lung cancer, our families and friends, our caregivers, doctors, nurses and researchers to get this legislation passed into law and fully funded and make certain that the agencies stay focused on the goal.”

In addition, the bill directs the Secretaries of Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to implement an early detection and disease management program for military personnel who are at high risk for lung cancer because of smoking or exposure to carcinogens during active duty.

The bill also:

  • Authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create a new Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction drug program with incentives for new treatments, targeted therapies, vaccines and chemoprevention drugs for precancerous conditions.
  • Requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out an early disease research program targeted at the high incidence and mortality rates among minority and low-income populations.

The bill includes specific authorizations of $75,000,000 for certain NIH agencies in FY09 and authorizes such additional sums as may be necessary for all the cited agencies to accomplish the goal for FY 2009 through FY2013.
 
Lung Cancer Alliance (www.LungCancerAlliance.org) is the only national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to patient support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer. Lung Cancer Alliance is committed to leading the movement to reverse decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for the disease, elevating awareness and changing health policy.