Federal Cancer Panel Proposes 'Three Crucial Actions' To Reduce Cancer Illness and Deaths

Thursday, October 23, 2008 General News
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Naming Cancer the 'Bioterrorist Within,' Panel Stresses the Urgent Need to Make Cancer a National Priority

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- With cancer deaths projected to rise at the same time funding for cancer research is stagnating, the President's Cancer Panel issued a report today urging a three-pronged approach to the problem: better coordination of the cancer enterprise, timely access for all Americans to health care and disease-prevention measures, and ridding the nation of tobacco.

The Panel's report, "Maximizing Our Nation's Investment in Cancer: Three Crucial Actions for America's Health," cites a number of troubling trends, including a declining cancer research budget; limited collaboration among components of the cancer research enterprise; an aging and progressively more sedentary population; an increasingly fragmented health care system; continued tobacco use; and a lack of understanding among policymakers, the research and health care communities, and the public about the urgency of the escalating cancer crisis.

LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., chair of the Panel, said "Despite declaring a national war on cancer in 1971 and investing many billions of dollars since then to understand and defeat cancer, our success against the disease in its many forms has been uneven and unacceptably slow. We have become complacent about this fearsome disease and have lacked the will to change aspects of our cancer-fighting enterprise that are preventing significant and rapid reductions in cancer illness and death."

In 2008, more than 1.4 million new cases of cancer are expected and more than 565,000 people will die from cancer. Every day, 4,000 people in America learn that they have cancer, and 1,500 Americans lose their lives to cancer, which the Panel called "a bioterrorist within."

Recommendation 1: Preventing and treating cancer must become a national priority.

The leadership needed to dramatically reduce cancer illness and death, the Panel declares, must come from the White House. Without clear leadership and coordination, the Panel writes, participants "are unable to coalesce around a shared vision and to coordinate research, educational, and service delivery efforts."

Recommendation 2: All Americans must have timely access to needed health care and prevention measures.

The Panel emphasizes the need for comprehensive healthcare reforms. "Small incremental health care system and insurance coverage changes ... are not adequately addressing fundamental health care system problems" that prevent people from accessing preventive care and treatment. Increasing access would dramatically reduce cancer illness and death, according to the Panel.

Recommendation 3: The scourge of tobacco in America must end.

Tobacco, the Panel report points out, is a known cause of at least 15 types of cancer as well as other diseases, and is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., accounting for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. An estimated 20 percent of Americans still smoke.

Needs that are highlighted in the report include the following:

The Panel concluded, "It no longer is acceptable to say that because cancer is complex, disparities in care are entrenched, and tobacco companies are powerful, we cannot solve the problem of cancer in America. We can. But to do so, cancer must become a national priority, one that is guided by strong leadership; fueled by adequate funding and productive collaboration and compromise among governments, industry, and institutions; and embraced by individuals who understand and accept their personal role in preventing cancer and in demanding meaningful progress."

For the complete report, visit http://pcp.cancer.gov. Hardcopies may be ordered by writing to pcp-r@mail.nih.gov or President's Cancer Panel, 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 220, Bethesda, MD 20892.

The President's Cancer Panel (http://pcp.cancer.gov) consists of three members appointed by the President: LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., Howard University; Lance Armstrong, Lance Armstrong Foundation; and Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D., University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The Panel, established by the National Cancer Act of 1971, is charged with monitoring the National Cancer Program and reporting annually to the President on any barriers to its execution. Contact: Eugenie Thompson, 202-842-3600, Ext. 236, mailto:ethompson@hagersharp.com

-- Unite scientific, health care, and advocacy communities in messages to policymakers to restore a sense of urgency about the cancer problem and improve funding levels. -- Examine structures, challenges, failures, and successes of other coordinating bodies as models for constructing a coalition of stakeholders committed to coordinating the research and care activities of the national cancer enterprise. -- Ensure that all Americans have access to adequate preventive, acute, and chronic disease care. -- Expand "medical home" models to improve continuity of care, reduce inappropriate health service utilization, manage risk-promoting conditions and behaviors, and increase the likelihood of consistent cancer screening and earlier detection of new cases. -- Further clarify individual and social factors and health system changes that predict smoking cessation success. -- Continue to counter aggressive tobacco company marketing through collaborative efforts designed to leverage available resources.

SOURCE President?s Cancer Panel

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