Step Up: More Funding for Childhood Cancer Research
A co-ordinated campaign by The Alliance for Childhood Cancer and the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer.
Research funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has played a role in every major advance related to cancer prevention, detection and treatment, as well as contributing to breakthroughs for many other diseases. We recognize that Congress is facing difficult budget decisions, but reductions in funding the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will lead to the decrease of purchasing power and slowing advances in cancer prevention and treatment.
- NCI’s investment in childhood cancer research and the return on that investment is unparalleled.
- Sustained funding in the fight against childhood cancer is critical to identifying new treatments, completing the ongoing clinical trials through which the majority of children with cancer receive treatment, reducing toxicities related to treatment, and achieving cures.
- The research tools and the current pace of discovery that are available today were difficult to imagine as recently as five years ago. This progress in treating and curing childhood cancer has come primarily through the sustained support of NCI.
- Federal funding is particularly vital in pediatric cancer. In childhood cancer research, the NCI provides virtually all of the funding.
Why Greater Federal Funding is Needed
- Unfortunately, NCI funding has been unable to fully meet scientific needs or keep up with inflation for years.
- Cuts to NCI’s funding will stifle medical discoveries that save children’s lives.
- They further impact children currently enrolled on clinical trials and these cuts devastate ongoing research and halt the accrual of new research grants. This series of events does irreparable harm to future generations of our nation’s children. It is a significant step backwards at a pivotal time for progress against childhood cancer.
- The greatest harm is felt by the Children’s Oncology Group.
The Children’s Oncology Group
Kids Cancer Research at Risk without Increased Funding
In the United States, cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease in children. Childhood cancers are comprised of well over one hundred different types of cancer, many of which still have unacceptably low cure rates. The advances made to transform childhood cancers from incurable diseases to diseases with overall 5-year survival now exceeding 80% resulted in large measure from a sustained investment by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in clinical research. However, too many children continue to suffer from the substantial acute and long-term morbidity of therapy. The biopharmaceutical industry has an extremely limited investment in childhood cancer research, and thus funding for childhood cancer research must come almost exclusively from the NCI. Today, the advent of molecularly targeted therapy and the emergence of precision medicine have the prospect to transform the therapeutic landscape for all children and adolescents with cancer.
The Children’s Oncology Group, a NCI supported clinical trials group, is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. In 2014, an estimated 15,780 children and adolescents will be diagnosed with cancer, and approximately 90% are expected to be cared for at COG institutions, many of whom will be able to enroll on COG-sponsored clinical trials. These trials include front-line treatment protocols for many types of childhood cancers, studies aimed at determining the underlying causes of these diseases, and trials involving new and emerging treatments, supportive care, and survivorship. COG’s unparalleled collaborative efforts provide the primary source of information and support needed to answer important research questions in the fight against childhood cancer.
Advances in today’s science will only translate into improved outcomes through increased and sustained investment in collaborative and productive clinical-translational research enterprises – team science at its best. Ongoing budget cuts will result in fewer childhood cancers being studied and will delay progress. Childhood cancer research, including mission critical research conducted by the Children’s Oncology Group, needs a substantial increase in investment, not only to levels NCI was able to make a decade ago, but to levels that will result in cures and better quality of life for all children with cancer; patients and families for deserve no less.