House Approves Colorectal Cancer Research Funding for Fiscal Year 2012

U.S. Capitol This afternoon, by a vote of 336-87, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 2219). The bill includes funding for critical national security needs while also providing essential funding for health and quality of life programs for the men and women of the Armed Services and their families.

The final bill includes more than $223 million for cancer research, including $12.8 million for the Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) that funds colorectal cancer research.

The PRCRP is an opportunity to advance the best research to eradicate diseases and support the warfighter for the benefit of the American public. The research target diseases like colorectal cancer that directly impact the welfare of the American military, their families and the public. For example, a study published in the June 2009 edition of Cancer Epiemology Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers found that colorectal cancer was one of the most common forms of cancer among active-duty military personnel. Screening rates in the military for colorectal cancer, like in the general population, are much too low. In 2008, only about 58% of those in the military who should be screened for colorectal cancer had been screened.

The mission of the PRCRP is to foster ground-breaking research, team science, and partnerships for the development of better prevention, early detection, and more effective treatment of cancer. The funding supports high-quality medical research, concentrating its resources on research mechanisms which complement rather than duplicate the research approaches of the other major funders of medical research in the United States. The PRCRP strives to recognize and fund innovative research, which can ‘leap frog’ scientific advances towards achieving the goals of the programs. This focus can be high risk, yet can yield high gains. CDMRP funds research that may be considered too risky or preliminary for the NIH/NCI to support.

The research potentially helps to decrease the more than $1 billion that the Department of Defense (DoD) spends on cancer care each year.

“Fight Colorectal Cancer, on behalf of the thousands of war fighters at risk for or living with colorectal cancer, thanks the US House of Representatives for reaffirming its commitment to funding cancer research through the CDMRP. While we are grateful that cancer research will continue through this program, we remain determined to do more and do better for the men and women living with cancer while wearing a uniform.” — Carlea Bauman, President, Fight Colorectal Cancer

Although colorectal cancer research has only been funded through the PRCRP since Fiscal Year 2010, we are already seeing innovative research taking place. Dr. Carlos Alvarez at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Dr. C. Couto at Ohio State University, and Dr. Kun Huang at Ohio State University recently received funding for a research proposal identifying genetic pathways that are affected in cancer risk and disease progression by studying military working dogs.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in America. As Congress moves forward with completing its work on the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bills we hope it will continue to fund proven research programs that have the potential to reduce the billions of tax-payer dollars we spend on cancer care.

The next step is for the Senate to consider the bill. Please take a minute to contact your Senators about the importance of Fiscal Year 2012 funding for colorectal cancer programs.

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