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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


By Mr. REID (for Mrs. Clinton):

S. 2877. A bill to improve and enhance research and programs on cancer survivorship, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancer Survivorship and Quality of Life Act, legislation introduced on the House side by Representatives SOLIS and BONO.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that there are more than 10 million cancer survivors in the United States. Advances in medical research have resulted in earlier diagnoses, more effective treatments, and improvements in medical outcomes for Americans with cancer.

These advances in cancer care are especially evident when examining our gains for pediatric cancers. The 5-year survival rate for children with cancer has improved markedly over the past decades, from 56 percent for those diagnosed in the mid-1970s to 79 percent for those diagnosed between 1995 and 2000. There are now more than 270,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S., and that number is expected to increase as we gain a better understanding of pediatric cancers and ways to treat them.

But in the years that we have made these gains in addressing cancer in children, we have also learned that many of these survivors experience what are known as ``late effects'' resulting from either the cancer or its treatment. These late effects include things like additional cancers, osteoporosis, heart problems and reduced lung capacity. As many as a quarter of childhood cancer survivors experience late effects that are serious or life-threatening. We must be doing more to ensure that the quality of life of children who have survived cancer is as high as possible, and that life-saving treatments result in as few long-term side effects as possible.

It is also important to note that health care disparities also impact pediatric cancer care and survivorship. African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islander children have higher rates of certain cancers than their white counterparts. In addition, due to disparities in access to care, these individuals may fail to receive adequate treatments for late effects of cancers. We need to improve our efforts to ensure that racial and ethnic disparities are eliminated from cancer care.

In a 2005 report, titled ``From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition'', the Institute of Medicine, IOM, recommended several measures we can take as a nation to improve the quality of life for children and young adults who are impacted by cancer. The legislation that I am introducing today will allow us to implement some of those recommendations, including expansion of cancer control and surveillance programs, increasing research in survivorship, and developing model systems of care and monitoring for cancer survivors. It will also create grants to establish childhood cancer survivorship clinics, and help childhood cancer organizations expand and improve their work in providing care and treatment.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that we address the needs of cancer survivors throughout the lifespan, and help to improve the quality of life for the many children and families that struggle with a cancer diagnosis.


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