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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Dakar, Senegal)
For Immediate Release                                     March 31, 1998




While cancer still casts a shadow over the lives of millions of Americans and their families, we can rightfully look back over the 1990s as the decade in which we measurably began to turn the tide against this deadly disease. From 1990 to 1995, the annual number of new cancer cases for every 100,000 Americans dropped slightly but continuously. Perhaps more important, the overall cancer death rate, which rose throughout the 1970s and 1980s, declined between 1991 and 1995, a trend that continues today and that we hope will be sustained into the next century. Thanks to years of dedicated, rigorous scientific study, people with cancer are now leading longer, healthier lives. More than eight million Americans living today have had cancer at some time, and these survivors are a powerful reminder of the importance of maintaining our progress in cancer research, prevention, and control.

My Administration's new cancer initiative proposes an unprecedented $4.7 billion investment in cancer research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the next 5 years. This significant increase in research funding has great potential to enhance early detection and diagnoses of cancer, to speed the discovery and development of new treatments, and to provide all cancer patients and their care givers with improved access to the latest information about their disease. Part of these increased funds will go to NIH's Human Genome Project, which is helping to advance our knowledge in the promising field of cancer genetics. The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) recently unveiled Cancer Genome Anatomy Project website is connecting researchers to information on genetic factors that determine how a particular cancer behaves -- how fast it grows, whether it will spread, and whether it will respond to treatment -- as they work to develop new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.

We are also continuing our aggressive cancer prevention efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is entering the eighth year of its landmark National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program. This program brings critical breast and cervical cancer screening services to previously underserved women, including older women, uninsured or underinsured women, women with low incomes, and women of racial and ethnic minority groups. Medicare now provides coverage for annual mammography screening and for Pap tests, pelvic exams, and colorectal cancer screening. By January 2000, Medicare will also cover the costs of prostate cancer screening tests.

We are taking other important steps toward cancer control as well. The NCI and the Food and Drug Administration are working in partnership to ensure that potentially effective drugs are expedited through the development process so that new anticancer therapies can be made available more rapidly to the patients who need them. We are also proposing, as part of our new cancer initiative, that Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to participate in certain cancer clinical trials. This will allow patients to benefit from cutting-edge research and provide scientists with a larger pool of participants in their studies, helping to make the results more statistically meaningful and scientifically sound.

If we follow our present course -- investing in research, translating research findings into medical practice, and increasing access to improved diagnostic and treatment programs -- we can continue to make significant progress in our crusade against cancer. We must not slacken our efforts until we can fully control this devastating disease and ultimately eradicate it.

In 1938, the Congress of the United States passed a joint resolution requesting the President to issue an annual proclamation declaring April as "Cancer Control Month."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim April 1998 as Cancer Control Month. I invite the Governors of the 50 States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, and the appropriate officials of all other areas under the American flag to issue similar proclamations. I also call upon health care professionals, private industry, community groups, insurance companies, and all interested organizations and individuals to unite in reaffirming our Nation's continuing commitment to controlling cancer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninetyeight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.


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