(Washington, DC, Monday, May 23, 2016) - Echoing the call from Vice President Biden and the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, more than 100 members of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives on May 24 in Washington D.C. ASTROâ€™s goal is to underscore the importance of investing in cancer research with sustainable and predictable funding.
Radiation therapy (RT) has been a safe and effective cancer treatment for more than 100 years, yet federal funding for research in radiation oncology remains well below that of other therapeutic areas. Radiation oncologists use RT to cure cancer, control tumor growth, and/or cancer symptoms. New technology allows radiation oncologists to better target radiation to eliminate cancer cells while protecting healthy cells, and innovations in RT have contributed to growing survival rates for cancer patients, such as an increase in five-year survival from prostate cancer from 69 percent in the mid-1970s to 99 percent today. ASTRO is asking Congress to advance progress in the fight against cancer by funding projects that bring together the best scientists from far-reaching fields, including radiation oncology.
The research community is on the cusp of finding better treatment options for cancer patients. Combination therapies, for example, attack cancer from multiple angles, such as using radiation therapy to boost the effects of immunotherapy by jumpstarting a patientâ€™s immune system. Understanding how and why these cutting-edge combination treatments increase survival is critical to matching them to the right patients in the future. That understanding, however, is simply more difficult to reach without increased funding from Congress for multidisciplinary cancer research.
ASTRO doctors also are urging members of Congress to protect patientsâ€™ access to care by stabilizing Medicare reimbursements and pursuing value-based physician payment systems. Another priority is legislation to end physician self-referral abuse, or situations where physicians refer their patients to additional services that have financial benefit for the referring doctor. Lastly, ASTRO encourages Congress to preserve funding and residency slots for graduate medical education, to ensure the U.S. health care system is equipped to handle the growing number of cancer patients and survivors
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the worldâ€™s leading organization in radiation oncology, with more than 10,000 members who treat more than 1 million cancer patients each year.