Winning The War On Cancer? Brain Tumor Advocates Say No

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Brain Tumor

Despite recent reports from the National Cancer Institute highlighting advances in the war against cancer, brain tumor patients still face a lack of effective treatment options.

For those patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive of all brain tumors, survival statistics have changed little over the past 15 years. Over 97% will die from their disease within 5 years. And for many diagnosed with other kinds of brain tumors, the treatment outlook is also grim.

In order to emphasize these concerns, the North American Brain Tumor Coalition (NABTC) and brain tumor advocates from across the nation will travel to Congress on Tuesday, May 1, during Brain Tumor Action Week, to urge initiatives to improve the treatment of brain tumors. The advocates, including brain tumor patients, their families and friends, have experienced the devastating effects of brain tumors and will share the message regarding brain tumors with Congress.

"We are in Washington, D.C. to let our Senators and Representatives know that brain tumor patients face the same dire situation today that they did a decade ago," said Susan L. Weiner, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the NABTC. "Without a change in the level of commitment to research on brain tumors, nothing will improve in the next decade, either," continued Dr. Weiner.

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More than 44,000 Americans are diagnosed with a primary brain tumor each year. Every single day, 35 American die from primary brain tumors. And many more die from brain metastases from other primary cancers. Brain tumors strike both adults and children, and even those who survive their brain tumors may be left with serious side effects. The situation confronting individuals with brain tumors and their families is tragically unchanged in the last decade.

The NABTC recommends that Congress take several specific steps to address the pressing needs of brain tumor survivors:

* Protect funding for the brain tumor research consortia and brain tumor Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs).These collaborative research centers, operating under threat of curtailed funding or elimination, must remain strong if new treatments are to be found.

* Boost National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by a minimum of 6.7 percent.This funding increase will protect NIH from inflation and permit critical research initiatives to continue.This increase, critical to protecting the past investment in NIH, represents the minimum increase that Congress should approve.

* Eliminate the two-year waiting period for Medicare benefits.A significant number of brain tumor patients find themselves in the two-year period between eligibility for Social Security disability payments and eligibility for Medicare.Those patients have a desperate need for medical care in that period and limited access to it; eliminating the waiting period may be life saving for them.

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