STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
By Mr. FRIST (for himself and Mr. KENNEDY):
S. 2771. A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to improve the quality of care for cancer, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, it is a privilege to join my colleague Senator BILL FRIST in introducing this bipartisan legislation to improve the prevention and treatment of cancer. The Quality of Care for Individuals with Cancer Act is a result of the combined efforts of many in the cancer community, including patients, families, cancer survivors, and health providers. Its goal is to see that as many of our fellow citizens as possible are able to obtain state-of-the-art cancer care.
The Nation's continuing investment in medical research in the past decade has led to many new and innovative options in cancer treatment and prevention. We all want to believe that when a loved one or someone we know is diagnosed with cancer, they will benefit from the latest and most effective treatments. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.
Many cancer patients receive the wrong care, too little care, or even too much care. Colon cancer is 85 percent curable if it is detected early through screening. Yet today less than half of all Americans who should be screened for colon cancer are actually screened. If we do not act to correct these problems, over a quarter of a million parents, sons and daughters, will die from this curable cancer in the next 5 years.
Much more can be done to extend the reach of high-quality cancer care and reduce this burden of unnecessary suffering and premature death. New discoveries of science can be brought much more quickly from the research laboratory to the bedside of the patient and to the practice of medicine in all communities.
Our bill will help assure that the care of cancer patients is coordinated from diagnosis through successful treatment. The quality of end of life care will be significantly improved. Needed programs will be established to meet the ongoing needs of cancer survivors and their families.
Health care provider training will make the latest in cancer care available through improved education and networking. Patients will have access to providers who know how to deliver the most effective cancer treatment at the right time and in the right way.
Today, the best in medical research is too often not available to treat and cure many different types of cancer, especially leukemia, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. The treatments will vary for each patient, but the standard of excellence in cancer care should be widely available to all. Enactment of this legislation will bring that day closer, and I look forward to its enactment, its implementation, and the benefits it will bring to so many of our fellow citizens in the years ahead.