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Higgins advocates for approval of Fairness to Kids with Cancer Bill

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Wed, Sep 30th 2020 05:50 pm

Legislation increases federal investment in pediatric cancer research

From the office of Congressman Brian Higgins:

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is calling for Congress to approve the Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act (H.R. 4429). The proposed legislation, which Higgins is cosponsoring, seeks to achieve parity between the share of federal funding for cancer research that is allocated to pediatric cancer research and the percentage of the U.S. population that is under the age of 18.

Higgins, who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Cancer Caucus and is a member of the Childhood Cancer Caucus, said, “While we’ve made great strides in pediatric cancer survival rates, the response to and effects of treatment are much different in children than adults. A cancer diagnosis is devastating for families. The best way to support kids stuck with cancer and the families that love them is by making a substantial and targeted national investment in pediatric cancer research.”

Although the past few decades have seen major advances in oncology treatment, cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 13. Tens of thousands of children throughout the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in the next year: on average, roughly one out of every five of them will die within five years of their diagnosis, while another fifth will not survive the next 25 years.

Due to the particular circumstances associated with childhood development, treatment is often costlier and more physically devastating for pediatric patients. As cells in children’s bodies are fast-growing, children are much more sensitive to the negative effects of chemotherapy than adults with the same forms of cancer. Furthermore, a high percentage of childhood cancer survivors incur “late effects” – serious health issues as a result of their treatment.

Despite the increased risk posed to children, less than 4% of the total National Cancer Institute (NCI) research budget is presently directed specifically toward childhood cancer research. The Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act would adjust this distribution so it is proportionally aligned with the age demographics of the U.S. based on data gathered through the 2020 census.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. In Western New York, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo continue to be on the front-lines in the fight against pediatric cancer.

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