Friday Frontline: Pediatric Cancer Research Legislation Goes Into Effect, MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. Announces He is Cancer Free and More

August 21, 2020

From the bi-partisan Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act implementing an FDA mandate that all new cancer therapies for adults must also be studied in children, to the “Iron Man” of baseball Cal Ripken Jr. announcing he’s cancer free after a February diagnosis, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.

The RACE Act — which is designed to promote pediatric cancer research and the development of treatments in that population — recently went into effect after being enacted three years ago.

“For too long, development of new drug treatments for children with cancer have lagged behind the innovations in cancer treatments for adults. In fact, most children with cancer still receive therapies that were developed as long ago as the 1960s,” said the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in a statement..

The RACE for Children Act aims to expand treatment options for children with cancer by mandating that any new drug applications, or biological products, submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for approval must also be tested in children when there are similar molecular targets under consideration. The legislation, according to experts, should address an unmet need in children with cancer.

NHL legend Dale Hawerchuk dies at 57 after long battle with cancer.

“After an incredibly brave and difficult battle with cancer, our dad has passed away. My family is so proud of him and the way he fought,” Hawerchuk’s son announced in a tweet.

A 16-year veteran of the National Hockey League, Hawerchuk recorded 1,409 points putting him 20th on the all-time list. The majority of his career was spent with the Winnipeg Jets. In his rookie season, he amassed 103 points and score 45 goals and was a recipient of the Calder Memorial Trophy – which honors the league’s best rookie.

Two brothers on a 1,500-mile bicycle trip from the gulf coast of Florida to the Ohio shores of Lake Erie to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer testing and screening have 500 miles to go.

Chris and Andy Mull started their ride in Perdido Key, Florida on August 1 with the goal of raising $25,000 for prostate cancer awareness. Their ride is personal as Andy was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, but initially didn’t want to get screened for the cancer. His wife insisted that he be examined as he had just turned 50 and his blood test found he had a high PSA and surgery to remove the tumor found that his cancer was aggressive.

“If I didn’t do something, I would not be here today.” Andy Mull said in an interview. “This is why we’re trying to promote it: Guys, go get tested,” Ken Krempin, the brother’s support driver and fellow prostate cancer survivor through the trip, added.

The three are taking inspiration from the non-profit “Simon Says Run for Prostate Cancer” calling their trip “Simon Says Bike” as they look to raise awareness around their mission with each stop and dollar raised online.

MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. announced a full recovery from prostate cancer after his latest surgery in March.

In February, the Baltimore Orioles legend was diagnosed with prostate cancer during a routine checkup and had surgery the following month. Due to his age, he wasn’t surprised at the high PSA (prostate-specific antigen) found during his tests but a follow-up biopsy also proved to be “iffy”.

"The weird part is, when it first happens to you, I kept thinking, 'I don't want to tell anybody,'" Ripken said. "It's almost like there's something wrong with you. I wouldn't say the Iron Man [nickname] contributes to it, but I was the kind of person who was thinking, 'OK, I'll just keep this a secret,’” Ripken said in an interview.

Follow-ups found that the cancer was contained to his prostate, which allowed for a successful treatment. "But the longer you deal with it and you understand the outcome has been favorable and positive, the reason I'm letting it slip out now is I want to use the opportunity to help other people who struggle with that decision and encourage other people to go get their regular exams, get their tests,” he added.


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