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Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act Becomes Law

A new law hopes to boost survival in rare cancers. 

BY Lena Huang
PUBLISHED March 14, 2013

A provision that gives hope to patients who have cancers with low survival rates got signed into law by hitching a ride with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act requires the National Cancer Institute to create a “scientific framework” or longterm plan to research recalcitrant cancers—cancers that have a five-year survival rate of less than 20 percent and cause at least 30,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. These plans will be assembled by government and non-government experts, will review current efforts and promising research and make recommendations on improving outcomes for these difficult cancers. The frameworks are to be finalized in 18 months and presented to Congress.

The bill was originally introduced in 2011 as the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act by Rep. Anna Eshoo and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse to honor Ambassador Richard Sklar, who died of pancreatic cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer caused 37,390 deaths in 2012.

In a statement released after the act was signed, Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said, “The adoption of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act is a historic victory in the fight against deadly cancers—particularly pancreatic cancer—as it is the first legislation designed specifically with the disease in mind.”

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