Cancer Advocates Unite to Watch State of the Union Address

January 28, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- January 28, 2008 -- Cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones will join the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) tonight to send a message to President Bush and Congress that federal funding for groundbreaking cancer research and lifesaving prevention and early detection programs should be a national priority. Tonight’s event marks the beginning of a year-long effort that ACS CAN, the American Cancer Society’s sister advocacy organization, is undertaking nationwide to increase federal Cancer Research Funding and improve access to health care. Hundreds of volunteers are expected to be on hand at 30 parties across the nation in a show of force and support for people touched by cancer, while listening intently to the President identify his policy priorities for the country.  

These gatherings nationwide are part of a continuous effort spearheaded by ACS CAN and supported by its large grassroots army in response to years of flat federal funding or cuts to cancer research and prevention programs. ACS CAN will be working with the administration and Congressional leadership to restore the nation’s commitment to fighting cancer. The National Institutes of Health budget and funding for cancer research have been virtually flat or cut for the past four years.  Cancer advocates also continue to work to raise awareness about the need for improved access to health care in this country.
“We have made tangible progress in the fight against cancer and it is directly linked to this nation’s past investment in research,” said Daniel E. Smith, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “By gathering cancer advocates together here and across the country we are sending a clear message to lawmakers that continued investment in cancer research and cancer programs should be a national priority. We will not rest until national healthcare policy reflects this need as well as the need to give every American access to quality, adequate health care.”

Many of the advocates who will gather to watch the President’s speech are cancer survivors who have benefited from advancements in the detection and treatment of the disease. Some traveled to Washington, DC this past September to participate in ACS CAN’s Annual Lobby Day, where more than 500 cancer advocates from all 50 states gathered on Capitol Hill to lobby their members of Congress in support of policies that will help prevent and fight cancer. They also asked lawmakers to support ACS CAN’s Congressional Cancer Promise, a short-term legislative road map outlining the public polices that will put this nation back on track in the war on cancer.

“Many of us have been given a chance to live healthier, happier and longer lives thanks to medical advances through research.  If lawmakers and the president don’t renew their investment in cancer research, newly diagnosed cancer patients may lose out on the opportunity to receive new treatments or cures that could save their lives,” said Laura J. Hilderley, RN, MS, national volunteer chair of the ACS CAN Board of Directors. “We are going to make sure that every congressional delegation knows we are paying attention and that short-changing cancer research is not acceptable.”

ACS CAN and its volunteers have been warning Congress for some time that cuts in research funding would jeopardize recent strides in reducing cancer death rates. Funding reductions also threaten the agencies’ ability to sustain grant commitments, maintain new infrastructure, attract and retain talented scientists and pursue promising new leads that could lead to a breakthrough in the way we prevent, detect and treat cancer.

In addition to funding cancer research, ACS CAN along with its sister charitable
organization, the American Cancer Society, is actively working to ensure access to quality cancer care for all Americans, including prevention information and all evidence-based early detection methods. Recent studies by the American Cancer Society find the uninsured are less likely to receive recommended cancer screening tests, are more likely to be diagnosed with later stage disease, and have lower survival rates than those with private insurance. Progress in the cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment is not enough if people do not have access to quality health care.

Between 1991 and 2004, cancer death rates declined by 14 percent, 100,000 fewer Americans died of cancer in 2004 alone, and between 2001 and 2004 some 300,000 cancer deaths were avoided. In 2007, it’s estimated that 1.4 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer and nearly 560,000 died of the disease. There are nearly 10.7 million cancer survivors in America today.

ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan sister advocacy organization of the American Cancer Society, which is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit

Alissa Havens
Phone: (202) 661-5772
Email: [email protected]

Steven Weiss
Phone: (202) 661-5711
Email: [email protected]

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