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HHS Secretary Details Cancer Research Before Senate Subcommittee

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on June 3 to detail the administration’s work on cancer research.

Noting that the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health has “an ambitious agenda,” Secretary Thompson said that the NIH estimates it will spend $5.6 billion on cancer research in FY2003.

Detailing several recent successes, Secretary Thompson said, “We are at the threshold of a new understanding of cancer at the fundamental genetic and molecular level, and now more than ever before, we are bringing together researchers from a broad array of scientific disciplines.”

One example cited by the Secretary was ovarian cancer. “There is new hope that comes to us from a multidisciplinary team of investigators who recently demonstrated that a sophisticated new computer-based screening tool can recognize protein profiles. That tool was used to distinguish between blood samples of women who had ovarian cancer and women who did not,” he said.

Secretary Thompson also detailed the work of several other agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and community health centers operated by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Stressing the importance of community health centers, Secretary Thompson said, “More than 88 percent of adult women seen at these centers are up-to-date with their Pap smears and more than 63 percent are up-to-date with mammograms, outpacing the national average for these services.”

The subcommittee also heard testimony from Elmer Heurta of the Washington Hospital Center, Ronald Herberman of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Susie Novis of the International Myeloma Foundation, and Steve Case of AOL Time Warner.

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