According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States with a diagnosis given every eight minutes, which in turn, leads to a death every hour.
Despite the staggering statistics, there are no public sources of funding dedicated to skin cancer research. In a bipartisan effort to provide a reliable source of funding, Representatives Brian Bilbray (CA-50) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) have introduced H.R. 5716, the Melanoma Research Act of 2012. This legislation will establish the Skin Cancer Research Fund to support research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
"Over a lifetime, a person has a one-in-50 risk of developing melanoma. The incidence is even higher for people under the age of 30," stated Bilbray. "While this disease does not discriminate, in the last 40 years the incidence rate has been on the rise with young women. We need a committed source of funding to allow the National Institutes of Health to adequately research this growing public health epidemic," added Bilbray.
"Every year millions of Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer, a deadly disease that is often preventable. Melanoma is now the most common form of skin cancer among young adults, the majority of which are women. We can no longer ignore the growing number of melanoma cases. The Skin Cancer Research Fund will increase awareness about the dangers of cancer and allow people to protect themselves from skin cancer," affirmed Maloney.
The funding source for the Skin Cancer Research Fund will come from existing user fees derived from indoor tanning services. According to a September 2011 Inspector General report, tanning service user fees have generated $54.4 million.
Bilbray continued by saying "it is important that there be a nexus between the impact and its user fee. The rise in skin cancer, particularly among young people, is an alarming statistic that warrants serious public investment."
Along with melanoma, this legislation will cover NIH research for the following types of skin cancers: Actinic keratosis, Basal cell carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, and Squamous cell carcinoma. The Melanoma Research Act is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Melanoma Research Alliance and the Melanoma Research Fund.
Congressman Brian Bilbray serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction communications, consumer protections, energy, environment, and health. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney is a senior member of the House of Representatives and tireless advocate for women's health.
What Skin Cancer Stakeholders Are Saying About H.R. 5716, Melanoma Research Act of 2012
"The incidence of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, has been increasing for at least thirty years in the United States. Although melanoma accounts for fewer than five percent of skin cancer cases, it causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths."
- Christopher W. Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
"Alarmingly, melanoma is increasing among young people and is now the number one cancer diagnosed in women aged 25-29. Scientists attribute this to the increasing use of tanning beds, which have been shown to increase the risk of melanoma by up to 75%. By dedicating the funds raised from the recently adopted tax on the use of tanning beds to skin cancer research, your legislation helps to emphasize the dangers of indoor tanning while augmenting resources available for lifesaving research."
- Wendy K.D. Selig, President and CEO of the Melanoma Research Alliance
"Federal support now and in the near future has the potential to catapult scientific progress and availability of meaningful treatment options for people with melanoma."
- Tim Turnham, Ph.D, Executive Director of the Melanoma Research Foundation