courtesy of Register-Herald.com, by Wendy Holdren 2/7/2017
In an effort to help thousands of children who undergo cancer treatment each year, U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., last week introduced the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act of 2017. The bipartisan legislation aims to advance pediatric cancer research and child-focused cancer treatments, while improving childhood cancer surveillance and providing resources for survivors and those impacted by childhood cancer. Capito and Reed were joined in introducing the bill by Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.
“We must continue making advancements that can help save the lives of those battling childhood cancers. The Childhood Cancer STAR Act will contribute to new developments in research and treatment, and has the potential to positively impact tens of thousands of lives. I’m proud to reintroduce this very important legislation for patients and families in West Virginia and across the country,” Capito said.
Childhood cancer research has progressed in recent years, but cancer is still the leading cause of death by disease past infancy among children in the U.S., according to NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). NCI estimates 10,380 children and adolescents up to 14 years of age nationwide were diagnosed with cancer within the last year and 1,250 will die of the disease. U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; Jackie Speier, D-Calif.; Mike Kelly, R-Pa.; and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A summary of the bill follows:
- Expanding Opportunities for Childhood Cancer Research: Due to the relatively small population of children with cancer and the geographic distance between these children, researching childhood cancer can be challenging. As such, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act would authorize the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to expand existing efforts to collect biospecimens for childhood cancer patients enrolled in NCI-sponsored clinical trials to collect and maintain relevant clinical, biological, and demographic information on all children, adolescents and young adults with cancer.
- Improving Childhood Cancer Surveillance: Building upon previous efforts, this bill would authorize grants to state cancer registries to identify and track incidences of child, adolescent and young adult cancer. This funding would be used to identify and train reporters of childhood cancer cases, secure infrastructure to ensure early reporting and capture of child cancer incidences, and support the collection of cases into a national childhood cancer registry.
- Improving Quality of Life for Childhood Cancer Survivors: Unfortunately, even after beating cancer, as many as two-thirds of survivors suffer from late effects of their disease or treatment, including secondary cancers and organ damage. This legislation would enhance research on the late effects of childhood cancers, including a study on insurance coverage and payment of care for childhood cancer survivors; improve collaboration among providers so that doctors are better able to care for this population as they age; and establish a new pilot program to begin to explore innovative models of care for childhood cancer survivors.
-Ensuring Pediatric Expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The Childhood Cancer STAR Act would require the inclusion of at least one pediatric oncologist on the National Cancer Advisory Board and would improve childhood health reporting requirements to include pediatric cancer.