Friday, August 24, 2007

Arizona Cancer Center director hopes presidential forum will raise research awareness

To ensure that cancer-related issues are included in each candidate’s platform during the upcoming Presidential election year, the Lance Armstrong Foundation will host the LIVESTRONG Presidential Cancer Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Aug. 27-28. The questions to be asked of the candidates address cancer research funding, access, prevention, early detection, survivorship and innovation. “Just like they would discuss war, or terror, or taxes, why wouldn’t they talk about the number one killer in this country?” says Armstrong. “I’m proud of the important scientific discoveries we’ve made over the years, which have contributed to the national progress against the more than 200 types of cancer,” says Arizona Cancer Center Director David S. Alberts, M.D. “My hope is that we’ll have the resources we need to continue our work.”

As the state’s premier National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, the Arizona Cancer Center celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. When the war on cancer began in 1971, a diagnosis of cancer was the equivalent of a death sentence. Thanks to cancer research, approximately 65 percent of all cancer patients can expect to survive, and 10 million cancer survivors are living in the U.S. today. However, more than 1.44 million Americans will still be diagnosed with cancer this year, and almost 560,000 will die from the disease. That’s the equivalent of three 747s full of 500 people crashing every day. In addition to the lives lost to cancer, the economic cost is staggering. Every year, cancer costs our nation more than $210 billion, but only about $5 billion in federal funds is spent on cancer research. The majority of funding for research at academic medical centers, including the Arizona Cancer Center, comes from competitive grants administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During the past four years, this funding has not even kept pace with inflation, and a cut in the NIH budget has been proposed for FY 2008.

As well as conducting innovative research, our nation’s cancer centers are responsible for educating the next generation of cancer specialists. Cutbacks in federal funding have hurt young scientists, and many are leaving the cancer field because they have only a 1 in 10 chance of getting their research projects funded. The forum for Democratic candidates will be on August 27, and the forum for Republicans will be on August 28. Both two-hour discussions will begin at 8 a.m. and will be co-moderated by Lance Armstrong and Chris Matthews of MSNBC. The forum can be viewed via streaming video on the MSNBC website at the time of the live broadcast. Portions of the discussions also will be featured on the August 27 & 28 broadcasts of Hardball. For more information and to sign up to view these events, visit the LIVESTRONG website at

No comments: