Editor’s Note: Update May,20,2016:Congress Heard You!
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who called their Representative and signed on to the support letter asking for $30 million for a Peer-Reviewed Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric Cancer Research Program within the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). Congress requested that research on “cancer of children, adolescents and young adults” receive priority funding from the pre-existing Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program in the CDMRP. We now must ensure that the Senate keeps this language in the final Defense Appropriations Bill. This is a big step in the right direction. Stay tuned on how you can help!
What is a CDMRP and why do adolescents and young adults need it to fight their cancers?
The Department of Defense (“DoD”) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program’s (“CDMRP”) mission is to target critical gaps and transform healthcare through groundbreaking biomedical research in response to its stakeholders—the American public, the military and Congress. The National Institute of Health (“NIH”) defines adolescent and young adults (“AYAs”) as persons between the ages of 15-39 years old. The #1 disease killer of AYAs and children is cancer. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the AYA and pediatric populations comprise more than half (53%) of the American public. According to the DoD, 2.1 million AYAs make up 86% of the active population serving in the U.S. military. When you factor in their spouses and children, more than 90% of America’s active military members and their families fall into the AYA and pediatric population.
According to the NIH, AYA and pediatric cancers are significantly under-researched, leading to poor outcomes including high morbidity and mortality. The CDMRP FY15 $1 billion budget features line items for prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer totaling $110 million, for these cancers, with a median diagnosis age of 66 years old. The median age of AYA and the pediatric population fighting cancer is 20 years old. The average age of children dying from cancer is 8 years old, and they lose an average of 71 productive life years. Yet there is no line item in the CDMRP for AYA and pediatric cancer, the #1 disease killer of America’s young active military service members and their families. The NIH states that AYA and pediatric cancers differ in type and biological behavior from cancers diagnosed in older adults,2 yet funds to support cancer research in these unique cancers and patient populations are lacking. When it comes to cancer research, this population has fallen through the cracks. The DoD CDMRP is in the unique position to make groundbreaking, transformative discoveries that positively impact the healthcare for 90% of our nation’s active military forces and 53% of the American population, filling the critical gap by investing in research for cancers that specifically affect AYAs and their children. The NIH says there is a need for basic science, epidemiology and clinical trials to improve survival rates for AYAs and children fighting cancer. The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is being asked to approve a CDMRP to include a $30 million line item specifically for Peer-Reviewed Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric Cancer Research. This has never been done before.
Adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer face a unique set of challenges. While the names of some AYA cancers may be the same as a pediatric or adult cancer, the biology and behavior of these cancers are often quite different and must be studied separately. Clinical trials specific to this population of patients are needed to improve treatments for these brave young service men and women. There is also a shortage of treatment centers specializing in the treatment of this age demographic. Other issues unique to this population include fertility preservation, psychological and psychosocial needs, and ongoing support and survivorship, including the management of complications from the late effects of treatments.
Stuart Siegel, M.D.; Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles explains, “There has been very little attention paid by medical researchers and clinicians to this group as a distinct entity. A lot of attention to children with cancer, a lot of attention to older people with cancer, but very little attention until recently to the young adult group. The kinds of cancer they have, the treatments they respond to, all these issues are important.” Although AYAs make up the vast majority of active U.S. military personnel, when it comes to the war with cancer, they enter that battlefield with the least amount of evidence-based treatment plans and therapies of everyone fighting cancer.
A detailed white paper has been created to explain all the reasons why the CDMRP request is being made on behalf of Adolescents and Young Adults. Click here for a copy: :DODCDMRPFY17Request_whitepaper
A copy of the actual request and a list of many organizations that have endorsed the request can be obtained by Clicking Here: Approps Chairman Ranking Member Letter FY2017 w signatories If you would like to sign on to this request, Click Here> Sign On