It's a major victory for pediatric cancer patients and their families, and it could mean the difference between life and death for the more than 15,780 American children who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
On Tuesday, both the House and Senate passed the Childhood Cancer STAR Act. This authorizes $30 million annually for the next five years to be spent specifically on pediatric research and care.
"Our youngest cancer patients present a unique set of circumstances and deserve a focus centered on the specific needs of children both as cancer warriors and life-long survivors," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "This bill represents a good start."
According to Rep. Higgins's office, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act also includes:
Requires the National Cancer Advisory Board, which reviews and makes recommendations on research awards, to have at least on member who specializes in oncology.
Supports research and outcomes addressing the physical and psychological needs of survivors.
Expands existing efforts to utilize cancer databases compiled through clinical trials to allow for greater insight for researchers.
The bill was adopted by the Senate on Wednesday, it now heads to the President's desk for final authorization.
So why is a bill like this so important? According to the childhood cancer foundation, I Care, I Cure, "the incidence of childhood cancer is on the increase, averaging 0.6% increase per year since the mid 1970's resulting in an overall increase of 24% over the last 40 years."
Also, "for 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) budget was $4.93 billion. It is anticipated that childhood cancer received 4% of that sum, or $198 million." I Care, I Cure.
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