Washington, D.C.—Today the House Appropriations Committee will vote on a proposed FY 2021 spending bill that includes a $5.5 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—half of which is emergency funding and the remainder of which will be divided among the various institutes, including a nearly $470 million funding boost for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The proposal also includes the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act aimed at improving access to cancer research clinical trials for underrepresented communities of color, and measures related to childhood cancer and lung cancer research and education.
The bill increases funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and allocates an additional $10 million for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH), which provides funding for programs that help prevent youth from starting to use tobacco and helps adult tobacco users to quit.
A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:
“Today committee members can make clear their commitment to providing much-needed resources to the NIH and NCI, especially in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. ACS CAN greatly appreciates the proposed funding increases. However, we urge lawmakers to keep in mind that emergency funding in this crisis should not be a substitute for continued sustained increases in medical research overall. Numerous clinical trials have been stalled due to the pandemic, restarting those trials and starting new ones will require both emergency and long-term reliable funding so we can continue the positive momentum in improved cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
“Greater access to clinical trials is also essential for addressing treatment disparities for communities of color, which is why it’s heartening to see the inclusion of the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act in this bill. Named after an African-American woman who died of cervical cancer and whose cells cultivated during her treatment have been used to develop some of the most important cancer treatments, the bill would focus on identifying and removing barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from participating in cancer clinical trials. Communities of color and other medically underserved groups continue to have higher cancer rates and are less likely to be diagnosed early or receive optimal treatment compared to other groups
“Increased funding for the CDC is critical to improving the nation’s public health and the appropriations bill wisely looks to reduce our country’s cancer burden by increasing the budget for the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) by $10 million. Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of cancer in our country and OSH serves a critical role in helping prevent kids from starting tobacco use and helping adults to quit. The bill also includes small funding increases for the colorectal cancer screening program, the ovarian cancer control initiative and the gynecological cancer awareness effort known as “Johanna’s Law” as well as directing research into incidence of lung cancer in women and improved lung cancer screening.
“However, funding for other critical cancer screening programs, including for breast, cervical, skin and prostate, remains flat. These screening and treatment programs are essential if we are going to continue to see progress in reduced cancer incidence.
“On behalf of the more than 1.8 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, we look forward to working with lawmakers to pass a final appropriations bill that reflects the critical need for medical research and disease prevention across a broad range of priorities, including cancer.”