Congressman Leonard Lance

Representing the 7th District of New Jersey

Star Ledger: U.S. Rep Lance touts new law that directs research toward the deadliest cancers

Feb 22, 2013

The Star Ledger

U.S. Rep Lance touts new law that directs research toward the deadliest cancers

By Dan Goldberg/The Star-Ledger
on February 20, 2013 at 5:57 PM

SOMERVILLE — U.S. Rep Leonard Lance (R-7th Dist.) was in Somerville this afternoon celebrating the passage of The Recalcitrant Cancer Act, which requires the National Cancer Institute to come up with a plan for treating and curing the deadliest cancers.

"The new law is simple," Lance said. "It requires the National Cancer Institute to develop a long-term strategic plan for developing better treatments and potential cures for the deadliest of cancers, such as pancreatic cancer and lung cancer."

Pancreatic cancer was a specific focus of today's event. In 2013, about 45,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease and nearly three-quarters will die within one year of their diagnosis.

"It is very important that the National Cancer Institute direct a greater effort to pancreatic cancer because it is so deadly," Lance said.

Everyone agrees research is key to improving the mortality rate and finding a cure for pancreatic and other cancers, but the National Institute of Health, which oversees the National Cancer Institute, is facing a $2.5 billion budget cut next week.

If the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, take place, NIH will lose 8 percent of its operating budget, affecting, among other priorities, research money.

Lance said he hopes those spending cuts can be revisited before they become law on March 1. Though he voted for the bill that authorizes sequestration because he believes Washington is spending too much money, he would have preferred line-by-line cuts as opposed to indiscriminate cuts like the ones set to take place.

The congressman spoke briefly about his mother who died of breast cancer when he was 12. He knows the pain of loss, he said, and how important finding a cure can be for families.

This new bill, signed by President Obama on Jan. 2, gives the the federal cancer institute 18 months to deliver its master plan of action to Congress.

"The adoption of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act is a historic victory in the fight against deadly cancers — particularly pancreatic cancer — as it is the first legislation designed specifically with the disease in mind," said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Lisa Niemi Swayze, wife of the late Patrick Swayze, who died of pancreatic cancer 22 months after his diagnosis, said the bill is an important step toward building hope the cancer community.

"Just because he is gone doesn't mean this fight is over," Swayze said.