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Recognizing September 22 as Internation Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Awareness Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize September 22 as International CML Awareness Day.

* The date September 22 symbolizes the genetic mutation of chromosomes 9 and 22 that causes the rare blood cancer chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML.

* Not long ago CML, cancer of the white blood cells, resulted in a rapid death after the initial diagnosis. But today, thanks to innovative therapies, CML is more frequently managed as a chronic condition.

* Within the past decade, as various drug therapies to treat CML became available, five-year survival rates increased from 50 percent to nearly 90 percent. Although 28,000 Americans currently live with CML, that number is estimated to increase to as many as 250,000 Americans by 2040.

* However, as with many rare diseases, progress in the development of treatments for CML brings with it a variety of challenges--for patients, physicians and the government. Treatments are expensive, and before recent changes in the law, some patients who managed the disease as a chronic condition exhausted their lifetime health insurance maximums. And genetic mutations cause patients to find previously effective treatments becoming ineffective.

* Earlier this week, the Rare Disease Caucus--of which I am a congressional co-chair--had the opportunity to see the faces of CML up-close and personal.

* From Poughkeepsie, New York, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Lincoln, Nebraska, we heard the emotional stories, the extraordinary hardship, the hope and the faith that someday we may find a cure for CML.

* The exact cause of the genetic changes behind CML is unknown. Continued research toward a cure and increased awareness remain vital to fighting the disease and improving the quality of life for those already living with it.

* I applaud the goals and ideals of CML Awareness Day. I strongly support promoting research and ensuring access to treatment that someday may lead toward a cure.

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