American Association for Cancer Research



                                                                                                    JANUARY 2009



Draft legislation would renew the war on cancer

Just before the holidays, Senators Edward Kennedy and Kay Bailey Hutchison released a draft of the 21st Century Cancer ALERT (Access to Lifesaving Early detection, Research and Treatment) Act. The draft has been long anticipated and reflects suggestions from various perspectives of the cancer community.

Nearly a year ago, Senators Edward Kennedy and Kay Bailey Hutchison teamed up to reexamine cancer research, prevention, detection, control and treatment in the United States. Their goal was to create a comprehensive cancer bill that would have an impact of the same magnitude as the landmark 1971 National Cancer Act. The senators reached out to the cancer community for suggestions to modernize cancer research, increase access to preventive cancer services, and provide cancer treatment and survivorship initiatives.

AACR responded by coordinating a group of research community leaders, chaired by Drs. Raymond DuBois and Edward Benz, to provide recommendations on how best to support cancer research and speed treatments to the bedside. Many research-oriented cancer organizations contributed to the discussion through the spring and summer, submitted suggestions to the senators' staff and discussed the implications of various ideas.

The result is the first draft of a bill that would have a positive impact on cancer research. The bill would update the role of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in coordinating the national cancer program, establish a data stewardship entity within NCI to support a national biorepository network for annotated tissue collection, improve privacy standards in clinical research to streamline data access while protecting patients, endorse the use of a centralized Institutional Review Board when warranted, and promote biomarker development through public/private partnerships, testing programs, and establishment of clear guidelines for review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Some of the other provisions included would support for patient access to prevention and early detection technologies, increase access to cancer clinical trials, stabilize the health professions workforce, reauthorize the patient navigator program, improve coverage of cancer services through CMS, address cancer survivorship and complete recovery issues, and streamline oncology drug review at FDA.

AACR, along with other representatives of the cancer community, will continue to work with Senators Kennedy and Hutchison to refine the Cancer ALERT Act. No date for formal introduction of the bill has been announced.

Read More from the January Edition of the AACR Cancer Policy Monitor: