Congressman David Obey requested information on NCI’s policies and priorities in a series of questions in March 1998 from Dr. Richard Klausner, then NCI Director. The answer, and the same answer today, is no to the question of whether or not the NCI should create a registry of avoidable carcinogens and make this information widely available.
Based on Klosner’s responses, it became apparent that NCI remained indifferent to cancer prevention, with an imbalanced focus on damage control – screening, diagnosis, treatment, and clinical trials. Further, distinguished oncologists have sharply criticized NCI’s claim that “innovative treatments” were successful. “Congress and the public do not pay NCI $4.7 billion a year,” Leland Hartwell, President of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Control Center, said in 2004. Most of that money goes to “promoting ineffective drugs” for terminal disease.
The U.S. spends five times more on biotech cancer drugs than the U.K. in the last decade, which has increased over 100-fold. It is subject to congressional authorization, and funding approval by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Although their survival rates are similar, the Obama Cancer Plan requires more chemotherapy per patient. It is clear that the more cancer prevention is done, the less cancer has to be treated. Therefore, these committees will be able to demand that major priority be given to cancer prevention rather than oncology. Moreover, this will contribute significantly to Obama’s goal of lowering health care costs, according to a news release released on January 23, 2009 by the Cancer Prevention Coalition.
The appointment of an Ad Hoc Working Group in April 2010 to review NCI’s opportunities to diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer is an encouraging move in support of directing priority to prevention.” Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine; Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medalist for International Contributions to Cancer Prevention; and author of more than 200 scientific articles and 15 books on cancer prevention and causes, including The Politics of Cancer (1979), and Toxic Beauty (2009 Benbella Press).
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