Betty McCollum

From the office of:

Betty McCollum

From: The Honorable Betty McCollum
Sent By:
Date: 7/10/2014

Urge the National Cancer Institute to develop a framework for Mesothelioma research

Current Signers: B. McCollum, C. Pingree, L. Lance, J. Moran, S. Farr, D. Young, G. Moore, G. Thompson, M. Honda, J. Brownley, H. Johnson, C. Shea-Porter, N. Lowey, F. LoBiondo, C. Maloney, J. Chaffetz, M. Michaud


Dear Colleague,

We respectfully ask you to join us in urging the National Cancer Institute to develop a scientific framework to guide research efforts of mesothelioma, one of the most deadly cancers affecting Americans. Our former colleague Bruce Vento succumbed to mesothelioma only eight months after his diagnosis, after representing Minnesota’s Fourth District in the House of Representatives for nearly 24 years.

The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012 was signed into law by President Obama on January 2, 2013 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law No. 112-239), giving the Director of the National Cancer Institute the ability to identify deadly cancers for which to establish scientific frameworks that will guide research efforts.  We feel strongly that mesothelioma should be one of these cancers.

In this law, a recalcitrant cancer is defined as a cancer “for which the five-year relative survival rate is below 50 percent.” Mesothelioma easily meets this definition, as it is one of the most deadly cancers, with only a five to ten percent five-year survival rate.  Sadly, the average length of survival for people with mesothelioma remains between four and eighteen months.

The law also seeks to target cancers that have “not seen substantial progress in the diagnosis or treatment.” Unfortunately, mesothelioma fits this stipulation as well. With only one FDA-approved treatment for mesothelioma that extends life by only three months, many patients have to resort to off-label use of chemotherapies, drastic surgery, or with luck, participation in clinical trials. There is no test currently available for early detection of mesothelioma either.

As a fellow advocate for medical research, please consider joining us in asking the National Cancer Institute to create a scientific framework to guide research efforts for one of the most deadly cancers, mesothelioma.

The text of our letter is below. The deadline to sign on is TODAY, Friday January 10. Please contact Jenn Holcomb in Congresswoman McCollum’s office at or Jennifer Taylor in Congresswoman Pingree’s office at with questions or to sign on.


Betty McCollum                                                        Chellie Pingree

Member of Congress                                               Member of Congress