U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined a bipartisan group of colleagues as a co-sponsor of the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research (STAR) Act. This bipartisan legislation will advance pediatric cancer research and child-focused cancer treatments, while also improving childhood cancer surveillance and providing resources for survivors and those impacted by childhood cancer.
“While we have made advances and breakthroughs in many fields, childhood cancer treatment has been left behind,” said Senator Kaine. “The Childhood Cancer STAR Act would help us right that wrong so one day we can ensure that no family has to lose a child to this terrible disease.”
Childhood cancer research has progressed in recent years, but cancer is still the leading cause of death by disease part infancy among children in the United States, according to NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 2017, NCI estimated that nationwide, more than 10,000 children and adolescents up to 14 years of age would be diagnosed with cancer and that more than 1,190 would die from the disease.
Senator Kaine has consistently supported legislation funding pediatric cancer research. In 2014, he championed the bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act to support pediatric medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama. The legislation honors the memory of Leesburg, Virginia’s Gabrielle Miller, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor the size of a walnut at age 9. He also voted for the Race for Children Act of 2017 to support the development of innovative and promising cancer drugs for children.
The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research (STAR) Act would:
- Expand opportunities for childhood cancer research
- Improve efforts to identify and track childhood cancer incidences
- Enhance the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors
- Ensure pediatric expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Expanding Opportunities for Childhood Cancer Research: Due to the relatively small population of children with cancer and the geographic distance between these children, researching childhood cancer can be challenging. The Childhood Cancer STAR Act would authorize the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to expand existing efforts to collect biospecimens for childhood cancer patients enrolled in NCI-sponsored clinical trials in order to maintain relevant clinical, biological, and demographic information on all children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer.
Improving Childhood Cancer Surveillance: Building upon previous efforts, this bill would authorize grants to state cancer registries to identify and track incidences of child, adolescent, and young adult cancer. This funding would be used to identify and train reporters of childhood cancer cases, secure infrastructure to ensure early the reporting and capture of child cancer incidences, and support the collection of cases into a national childhood cancer registry.
Improving Quality of Life for Childhood Cancer Survivors: Unfortunately, even after beating cancer, as many as two-thirds of survivors suffer from late effects of their disease or treatment, including secondary cancers and organ damage. This legislation would enhance research on the late effects of childhood cancers, including a study on insurance coverage and payment of care for childhood cancer survivors; improving collaboration among providers so that doctors are better able to care for this population as they age; and establish a new pilot program to begin to explore innovative models for care for childhood cancer survivors.
Ensuring Pediatric Expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The Childhood Cancer STAR Act would require the inclusion of at least one pediatric oncologist on the National Cancer Advisory Board and would improve childhood health reporting requirements to include pediatric cancer.