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Senators Feinstein and Brownback Introduce Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2009

Commends United States Senate Cancer Caucus Co-Chairs Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sam Brownback(R-KS) For Their Continued Leadership

Washington, D.C. [January 27, 2009]--Just three weeks into the 111th Congress, United States Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)and Sam Brownback(R-KS) reintroduced the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2009, legislation authorizing a comprehensive, multi-agency research effort to reduce lung cancer’s mortality.

The Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2009 (pdf) declares lung cancer a public health priority, authorizes the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Defense and Veterans Affairs to combine their key assets and to develop a comprehensive and coordinated research program with a goal of cutting lung cancer’s mortality in half by 2016.  The first year of the five year bill would be funded at no less than $75 million.  Additional sums are authorized as determined by these three agencies in the overall five year plan.

“We could not be more pleased and honored to again be working with these Senate champions who throughout their public service careers have be staunch advocates not just for upgrading cancer research generally, but lung cancer research specifically, said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) President & CEO.  “By introducing this lung cancer bill so early, these Senate Cancer Caucus Co-chairs are signaling to the President, the Senate and the Country the urgent need to address lung cancer -- now”.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States and world-wide.  In 1971, when the National Cancer Act was passed, lung cancer’s 5-year survival rate was 12%.  Today, it is only 15% while the 5-year survival rates for breast, prostate and colon cancers have risen to 89%, 99% and 65% respectively. While great progress has been made in tobacco cessation, and needs to continue, 65% of people now being diagnosed with lung cancer are either former smokers or never smokers.

“It’s time for the federal government to step up its efforts and make fighting lung cancer a national priority,” said Senator Feinstein.  (Read Senator Feinstein's statement for the Senate Record.)

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, but efforts to fund research and innovative new drug therapies have been shortchanged when compared to other cancers. This bill would boost funding and expand research into the causes and treatment of this deadly scourge," she said.

Lung cancer has received only a small fraction of research funding as compared to other cancers and diseases, primarily because patients are being blamed for their disease whether they smoked or not and because so few patients survive to advocate for change.  In addition, only 16% of lung cancers are being detected at an early curable stage.

“We must make every effort to address lung cancer comprehensively and thus not overlook the import of earlier detection and better disease management.  This is how we are going to make a difference in lung cancer mortality,” said Senator Brownback.

“Senators Feinstein and Brownback have never wavered in their commitment to do everything possible to help the entire lung cancer community,” said Fenton Ambrose.  “All those people and families who have been touched by lung cancer now have a vehicle for change and with everyone pitching in, yes, we can get it passed,” she concluded.

TAKE ACTION!!!  CONTACT YOUR SENATORS TO ENCOURAGE THEIR SUPPORT TODAY!