By Representative Fred Upton
It has been more than four dec-ades since President Richard Nixon declared the "war on cancer" by signing into law the first of many major anti-cancer initiatives. While significant progress has been made in those forty years to reduce the mortality rate for many forms of cancer through improved understanding, greater public awareness, and advancements in treatment, much work still lies ahead in the fight against cancer and other hard-to-treat diseases.
I am pleased to announce that last week the House passed two important pieces of legislation that will help advance vital medical research for both hard-to-treat cancers and rare and genetic diseases in children. The bipartisan bills -- the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012 (H.R. 733) and the National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2012 (H.R. 6163) -- passed my Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month by voice vote and received the same strong support before the full House.
H.R. 733 supports research of can-cers with low survival rates, such as pancreatic, liver, and esophageal cancers. With their unique molecular structure, these cancers spread under the radar of traditional diagnostic tools. When they are eventually diagnosed, the damage is often substantial, the treatments are ineffective, and the prognosis is poor. The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act is an im-portant step in working toward breakthrough advances in cancer research.
H.R. 6163 seeks to further re-search of rare and genetic diseases in infants and children. The legislation allows the National Institutes of Health to fund pediatric research consortium that are formed from cooperating institutions to promote greater re-search efficiency and collaboration.
The breakthrough advancements made in this research will benefit patients, doctors, and the loved ones of those who suffer from these terrible afflictions. For someone diagnosed with a hard-to-treat cancer or a parent whose child suffers from an untreatable genetic disease, hope can be hard to come by. But by giving these often-fatal conditions the attention they rightfully deserve and advancing measure to combat them, we offer patients and their families a little more hope.