(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 in Washington D.C.
Their goal is to underscore the importance of investing in cancer research with sustainable and predictable funding. The doctors also are urging members of Congress to pursue value-based healthcare payment systems, end physician self-referral abuse and preserve funding for graduate medical education, to ensure the U.S. is equipped to handle the growing number of cancer patients and survivors.
Lawrence B. Marks, MD, chair and professor of radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina and ASTROâ€™s Clinical Affairs and Quality Council Chair, stresses the importance continued funding for cancer treatment and research.
RADIATION THERAPY HAS BEEN A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR PATIENTS WITH CANCER FOR ABOUT A HUNDRED YEARS. YET FEDERAL FUNDING FOR RESEARCH IN RADIATION THERAPY REMAINS LOWER THAN WE BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE. THERE ARE MANY NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT ALLOW RADIATION ONCOLOGISTS TO BETTER TARGET THE RADIATION TO BETTER KILL THE CANCER WHILE AT THE SAME TIME PROTECTING THE HEALTHY TISSUES. THESE IMPROVEMENTS IN RADIATION THERAPY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE IMPROVEMENTS IN SURVIVAL RATES FOR MANY PATIENTS WITH CANCER. FOR EXAMPLE, THERE HAVE BEEN IMPROVEMENTS WITH PATIENTS WITH PROSTATE CANCER, BREAST CANCER, HEAD/NECK CANCER AND MANY OTHER CANCERS AS WELL.
THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY IS ON THE CUSP OF FINDING BETTER TREATMENTS FOR OUR PATIENTS WITH CANCER. COMBINATION THERAPIES, FOR EXAMPLE, ATTACK THE CANCER FROM MULTIPLE ANGLES. ONE EXAMPLE OF THIS MIGHT BE USING RADIATION THERAPY TO JUMPSTART THE PATIENTâ€™S OWN IMMUNE SYSTEM AND BOOST THE EFFECTS OF IMMUNOTHERAPY. UNDERSTANDING HOW AND WHY THESE CUTTING-EDGE TREATMENTS IMPROVE OUTCOMES FOR OUR PATIENTS IS CRITICAL FOR US TO KNOW HOW BEST TO MATCH THESE THERAPIES TO THE APPROPRIATE PATIENTS. UNDERSTANDING ALL OF THIS HOWEVER, IS VERY DIFFICULT TO DO WITHOUT INCREASED FUNDING FROM CONGRESS TO SUPPORT THIS TYPE OF INNOVATIVE RESEARCH.
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