House Passes Reed’s Bipartisan STAR Act to Combat Childhood Cancer
Congress reauthorizes Reed’s bill to advance childhood cancer research, improve efforts to identify and track incidence of childhood cancer, and enhance the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to reauthorize the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act of 2022.
Authored by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and passed earlier this week by the U.S. Senate, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act is a comprehensive measure designed to boost pediatric cancer research, help thousands of children who undergo cancer treatment each year, and find new cures and effective treatments for patients and support for families.
The STAR Act helps 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. Since being signed into law the STAR Act has helped deliver over $120 million to fund promising childhood cancer research and assist patients and families battling cancer.
“We’re starting to see some promising steps when it comes to combatting childhood cancer. Reauthorizing the STAR Act will hopefully accelerate that progress to find better treatments, therapies, and a cure and ensure every child has the best possible chance to beat cancer,” said Senator Reed. “Anything we can do to ease the burden for a child with cancer and their family, I’m for it. This reauthorization prioritizes pediatric cancer research and adds some extra reinforcements and support for families in their time of need. It will help lead to more advancements in treating and curing pediatric cancer. It will develop new strategies to help survivors overcome late health effects, such as secondary cancers, and offer a lifetime of support. I thank the House for quickly passing this measure and look forward to President Biden signing it into law.”
Reed’s bipartisan bill, which has been called “the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever introduced into Congress,” was first passed in 2018 and scheduled to sunset after five years or be reauthorized. Today’s Congressional reauthorization means the law’s vital programs may continue for another five years, subject to future annual appropriations.
Childhood cancer research has progressed in recent years, but after accidents, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14, according to the American Cancer Society. Health experts estimate that nearly 10,500 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2022.
There are over one hundred different subtypes of childhood cancers. Most new cancer diagnoses in children are for leukemia (28.1%) and brain/CNS cancers (26.5%), while malignant epithelial neoplasms and melanomas (23.3%) and brain/CNS cancers (21.9%) are top cancers for adolescents, according to Children’s Cancer Cause.
The Senate version of the bill has 38 cosponsors, led by Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
In the House, U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX), Jackie Speier (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Mike Kelly (R-PA), co-authored and championed companion legislation.
Now that the bill has been approved by Congress, it goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law. President Biden has publicly endorsed the bill and is expected to sign it.
Summary: The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 4120)
Expand 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. As such, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act reauthorizes and expands existing efforts at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to collect biospecimens for childhood cancer patients enrolled in NCI-sponsored clinical trials to collect and maintain relevant clinical, biological, and demographic information on all children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer.
Improve Childhood Cancer Surveillance: Building upon previous efforts, this bill authorizes grants to state cancer registries to identify and track incidences of child, adolescent, and young adult cancer. This funding will be used to identify and train reporters of childhood cancer cases, secure infrastructure to ensure early reporting and capture of child cancer incidences, and support the collection of cases into a national childhood cancer registry.
Help Improve Quality of Life Opportunities 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 will enhance research on the late effects of childhood cancers, improve 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 of care for childhood cancer survivors.
Ensure Pediatric Expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Requires the inclusion of at least one expert in pediatric oncology on the National Cancer Advisory Board and would improve childhood health reporting requirements to include pediatric cancer.