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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute president comments on Senators Kennedy and Hutchison's cancer legislation


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Edward J. Benz Jr., MD, President of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) today introduced the 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment (ALERT) Act, a bill to comprehensively address the challenges our nation faces in battling this disease.

This is the first sweeping cancer legislation introduced since the National Cancer Act in 1971, authored by Kennedy.

Senators Kennedy and Hutchison first proposed the idea for comprehensive cancer legislation last May, when the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing to discuss the need for a renewed focus on the deadly disease. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's president Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, testified at the hearing and offers the following comments on the bill:

"We are extremely grateful for the leadership of Senators Kennedy and Hutchison in bringing this important legislation forward.

"Despite the great progress that has been made against cancer in the past quarter century, the burden of the disease on patients and their families around the world remains unacceptably high.

"This legislation holds significant promise. It stands to improve access to latest advances in cancer care. It places much needed focus on national initiatives in cancer prevention. It outlines a strong set of priorities to improve patient participation in clinical trials. It acknowledges that more people are surviving cancer and addresses the need for greater cancer survivorship care and services. It calls for reducing disparities in cancer mortality. It provides the resources for workforce development to help ensure that we have the highly skilled caregivers needed to expertly and compassionately care for patients.

"It also recognizes that current research has immense potential to lessen that burden for future generations and provides a powerful impetus for continued progress. We will be working closely with Senators Kennedy and Hutchison and their staffs to refine the bill and work for its passage."

Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD
President of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Co-Chair of the Research Working Group for the 21st Century Cancer Act
President of the Association of American Cancer Institutes

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