Your Advocacy Efforts Made Millions Available for Esophageal Cancer Research in 2020!
Now We’re Working Toward 2021!
Thanks to ECAN and our advocates, esophageal cancer was included in the Department of Defense (DoD) Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) for the first time in 2019. As a result, in Esophageal Cancer researchers are able to apply for $110 million in available research funding along with researchers in other cancers included in the program.
Working Hard to Make Funds Available in 2021!
While getting in the program for the first time was a huge win, it is just the beginning. Each year, Congress is required to re-write the list of cancers that are eligible for research funding under the program. We are currently working on securing Esophageal Cancer’s place in this program for 2021. As they did last year, Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) have agreed to spearhead a campaign in the U.S. House of Representatives to keep Esophageal Cancer included as a disease eligible for funding under the PRCRP.
How Does the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) Work?
Since 2009, the PRCRP has supported innovative and competitive cancer research to benefit our military and civilian populations. Each year, Congress specifies the cancers that will be eligible for research under this program. A cancer can only be eligible for funding under this program if Congress includes it on the program list. The DoD’s PRCRP complements research funding provided through the National Cancer Institute (NCI), but the funding awarded through the two programs are inherently different. The NCI focuses on funding the best science regardless of the disease focus. The PRCRP focuses on funding the most compelling research for each specific disease.
What criteria allowed Esophageal Cancer to be included?
The PRCRP was established to support research into specifically designated cancers with relevance to military service members and their families. Esophageal cancer clearly meets those criteria:
- Esophageal cancer is the fastest increasing cancer diagnosis among American men, regardless of whether they are in the civilian or military populations.
- Those at greatest risk for esophageal cancer are men over the age of 55 who have a history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), tobacco and/or alcohol use, and/or obesity – all risks that are higher in the country’s veteran population compared to the general population.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs has already stated that esophageal cancer is presumed to be connected to military service for those who were exposed to some types of radiation and those who lived or served at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from the 1950s to the 1980s.
- Further, some esophageal cancer is related to a history of smoking, a practice actively supported by the military well after the adverse health-effects of tobacco use were known.
How do we get Esophageal Cancer included in the PRCRP again in 2021?
Each year, the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense write a report that lists which cancers will be eligible for research funding under the program. One factor that affects that decision is how many members of Congress have asked that a specific cancer be included on the list.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressmen DeFazio and Loudermilk are spearheading a letter to the House DoD Appropriations Subcommittee and are asking other members of Congress to co-sign with them. We want as many U.S. Representatives to sign that letter as possible!
The House has earlier budget-setting deadlines and so ECAN is working hard to gain as much support within the House of Representatives as we can right now. Thereafter, we will begin the work of gaining support in the U.S. Senate, just as we did last year.