Breast Cancer Awareness and Medical Innovation
Millions of Americans are affected by breast cancer each year and during October we make a concerted effort to recognize the continuation of the fight for a cure.Throughout the month of October it is impossible to miss the pink ribbons, shirts, balloons, and events that bring recognition to the national fight against breast cancer. These reminders represent the hard-fought battle, the uncertainty, the loss, and the triumph of so many across the country. Millions of Americans are affected by breast cancer each year and during October we make a concerted effort to recognize the continuation of the fight for a cure.
Early detection of many diseases, including breast cancer, leads to more effective treatment, giving hope to patients and saving lives. For far too long, medical innovation has been hindered by bureaucratic policies that cost billions of dollars and delay the approval process for potential life-saving treatments. Sadly, there are instances in which the authorization for a new, innovative treatment has taken 15 years and billions of dollars. To address authorization delays, H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act, became law in 2016. This legislation helps develop our healthcare innovation infrastructure to fast-track the research, development, and delivery of alternative treatments.
Oftentimes though, the millions of Americans diagnosed with a terminal illness find that when traditional treatments are no longer working, the approval process for experimental methods is too long. Families should not have to watch their loved ones suffer during a lengthy authorization process when potential treatments do exist. In response to this problem, the Right to Try Act of 2018 was signed into law earlier this year. This bipartisan legislation provides access to medications that have passed basic safety testing by the Food and Drug Administration but are not yet available to the general public. Those with serious illnesses who are not accepted into clinical trials or granted an exemption to use such treatments will soon be able to access these potentially life-saving medications, restoring hope for patients and their families.
Several factors may increase the risk of developing cancer, including family history, age, and obesity. Healthy lifestyle choices and exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of developing cancer. However, sometimes there is no explanation for development of this horrible disease. Research is critical to ensuring that cancer is understood and then overcome. Congress has consistently supported the research of the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program. Data derived from these programs can help save lives, and our country needs to continue to provide proper avenues to encourage medical innovation and promptly approve delivery of beneficial treatments.
As October comes to a close, I encourage folks to remember and honor friends and family members who are living with breast cancer and those who have lost their lives to this dreadful disease. The courage and determination demonstrated by those affected, whether by being diagnosed or losing a loved one, is an inspiration to us all. We must never stop fighting to find a cure.