Sending Office: Honorable Nydia M. Velazquez
Sent By:
Matthew.Gomez@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Endorsing organizations: Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), Hep B United, Hep B Foundation, Betances Health Center, Charles B. Wang Community Health
Center, Lower East Side Service Center, African Services Committee, Family Health Centers @ NYU Langone, Montefiore Health System

House co-sponsors (8): Carson, Clarke, Espaillat,
Fitzpatrick
, Jayapal, Meeks, Meng, Vela

Dear Colleague,

In 2018, approximately 42,220 people in the United States will be diagnosed with primary liver cancer, and approximately 30,200 will die from the disease because it is rarely detected sufficiently early for successful treatment.[1]
The five-year survival rate of 18 percent makes liver cancer one of the deadliest forms of cancer,[2] and though the overall cancer death rate has decreased recently, the liver cancer death rate is on the rise.[3]
Furthermore, early detection is key towards a higher survival rate. When diagnosed in the early stages, liver cancer has a five-year survival rate of 31 percent,[4] but shrinks drastically to only 3 percent when
liver cancer is diagnosed in the later stages.[5]

Unfortunately, research, prevention, and awareness initiatives remain underfunded and deprioritized at the federal level compared to other major cancers, a disparity which we must no longer tolerate. For example, liver cancer kills three times as many Americans
(30,200) as skin cancer (9,320),[6] but receives about half of the research dollars at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).[7] Simply put, more work needs to be done
to improve the treatment, surveillance, and general knowledge of liver cancer and its comorbidities.

The good news is that with increased research, there is hope on the horizon. According to the American Cancer Society, “vaccinations and improved treatments for hepatitis could prevent about half of liver cancer cases worldwide.”[8]
Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) are major risk factors for liver cancer, which also disproportionally impact racial minorities and immigrant communities, most significantly Asian Pacific Americans, Latinos, and African immigrants. Unfortunately, a
lack of awareness about prevention mechanisms for these diseases contributes to increased rates of liver cancer among these communities. For example, Asian/Pacific Islander men and women have 2.1 and 2.3 times, respectively, the incidence of liver and intrahepatic
bile duct cancer as the non-Hispanic white population.[9] This underscores the importance of prevention, screening, and early detection towards reducing liver cancer mortality, and why the federal government must
prioritize and robustly fund liver illness research, treatment, and awareness initiatives.

That’s why this week, I will be introducing the Liver Illness Visibility, Education, and Research (LIVER) Act of 2018. The LIVER Act is a public health initiative that will help people of all ages, lifestyles, and ethnic backgrounds reduce their risk for
liver cancer and related illnesses by enhancing the federal government’s research initiatives while empowering local entities to promote treatment and raise awareness. Specifically, my bill directs NCI to initiate the process for creating a Specialized Program
of Research Excellence (SPORE) for primary liver cancer and makes hospitals and healthcare facilities eligible to receive funding for experimental treatment and prevention programs.

Additionally, it creates two new grant programs at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): one for liver cancer prevention activities (including screenings, vaccinations, and treatments), and another for awareness activities (including the production and
distribution of public informational materials targeted towards Americans in communities at a higher risk for liver illnesses). In order to ensure awareness efforts are as locally-tailored as possible, the awareness grant program gives a preference for applicants
who are or can demonstrate they work with Federally qualified health centers. Finally, the bill elevates the profile of liver cancer and liver illnesses by creating a Liver Disease Division within National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), establishing an inter-institute working group to coordinate research efforts, and directing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and NIDDK to issue targeted calls for research proposals.

With this bill, we can ensure the communities suffering from liver cancer and liver illnesses receive strong federal support. For more information, or to cosponsor the bill, please contact Matt Gómez in my office at
Matthew.Gomez@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress

 


[1] American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Key Statistics About Liver Cancer. Retrieved July 30, 2018, from

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/liver-cancer/about/what-is-key-statistics.html

[2] Cancer.Net. (2018, January). Liver Cancer: Statistics. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from
https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/liver-cancer/statistics

[3] NIH National Cancer Institute (2018, September). Annual Plan & Budget Proposal FY 2020. Retrieved September 24, 2018 from

https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/budget/plan/2020-annual-plan-budget-proposal.pdf

[4] Cancer.Net. (2018, January). Liver Cancer: Statistics. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from
https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/liver-cancer/statistics

[5] American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Liver Cancer Survival Rates. Retrieved July 30, 2018, from

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/liver-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html

[6] NIH National Cancer Institute (2018, September). Cancer Stat Facts: Melanoma of the Skin. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from
https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/melan.html

[7] NIH National Cancer Institute (2018, February). Budget Summary Data: Research Funding. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from

https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/budget/fact-book/data/research-funding

[8] American Cancer Society. (n.d.). What’s New in Liver Cancer Research? Retrieved July 30, 2018, from
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/liver-cancer/about/new-research.html

[9] Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (2016, November). Cancer and Asians/Pacific Islanders. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from
https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=46

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