Bill aims to better understand pediatric cancers, treat & track survivors
This week, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3381, the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act. The legislation, cosponsored by Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, had broad bipartisan support.
"Thankfully, great scientific strides have led to better outcomes for pediatric cancer patients, but with an increase in survivorship of our littlest patients comes a whole new set of questions about how to keep those diagnosed healthy and cancer-free well into adulthood," Higgins said. "This bill will help us to better understand the distinct needs of children, families and medical professionals dealing with cancer separate from that of adults, toward the goal of lifelong comprehensive care for our young brave survivors."
The bill authorizes $30 million annually from 2017-21 toward pediatric cancer fighting initiatives, including:
•Creation of a child cancer repository of biospecimens and clinical and demographic data to improve understanding of the cause of cancers, recurrences, and the effects of existing treatments.
•Pilot programs to develop, study or evaluate systems for monitoring and caring for childhood cancer survivors throughout their lifespan.
•Inclusion of at least one pediatric oncologist on the National Cancer Advisory Board.
•An annual report of NIH funding specifically dedicated to pediatric research.
The legislation points out cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 14. One in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before age 20.
In 1960, only 4 percent of children with cancer survived more than five years. Today, more than 80 percent survive.
The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration and approval.