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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release January 29, 1998
                      VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES 
                       HISTORIC CANCER INITIATIVE

January 29, 1998

We've won a great many battles, but we know we can't stop until we win the war. That is why, even as we are balancing the budget and making tough cuts across the board, we must invest more in the war against cancer. We must give America's families new hope for a healthy future.

Today, Vice President Gore announced a historic initiative to step up the battle against cancer. Building on the Administration's support for legislation to prevent genetic discrimination by health insurers and employers, the President's new cancer initiative includes:

More than 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and more than 20 percent will die from it. While scientists have made important strides in cancer, particularly in childhood cancers, experts believe that we are at the cusp of important new breakthroughs in the war against cancer that merit or justify a much greater investment in research that could lead to help better diagnose, prevent, treat, and potentially cure cancer.

Less than three percent of cancer patients participate in clinical trials. Americans over the age of 65 make up half of all cancer patients, and are 10 times more likely to get cancer than younger Americans. Many scientists believe that higher participation in clinical trials could lead to faster development of therapies for more of those in need, as it often takes between 3 and 5 years to enroll enough participants in a cancer clinical trial to make the results scientifically legitimate and statistically meaningful. Furthermore, older Americans frequently cannot participate in cutting edge cancer clinical trials because Medicare does not pay for such treatments until they are established as standard therapies.

Historic Increases in Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health. The Vice President announced a 65 percent increase in funding for cancer research at the NIH over the next five years. This is part of the President's proposal for an unprecedented $1.15 billion increase at the NIH in FY1999 and a nearly 50 percent increase over the next five years.

Coverage of Cancer Clinical Trials for Medicare Beneficiaries. The Vice President also announced that, for the first time, Medicare beneficiaries would be able to have the patient care costs associated with cancer clinical trials explicitly covered through a new demonstration. This would give Medicare beneficiaries access to cutting-edge treatments and encourage higher participation in clinical trials.