DearColleague.us

Letter

Sending Office: Honorable Peter A. DeFazio
Sent By:
Bobby.Puckett@mail.house.gov

Save lives by ensuring esophageal cancer is included again in DoD’s vital PRCRP research program

**Sign-on deadline is March 10**

Current FY21 Signees: DeFazio,
Loudermilk, Holmes Norton, Rush, Panetta, Posey, Hastings, DeSaulnier

Previous FY20 Signees: DeFazio, Loudermilk, Blumenauer, DeSaulnier, Hastings, Golden, Hayes, Kuster, McEachin, Holmes Norton, Panetta, Posey, Rouda, Rush, Velazquez, Schakowsky, Yoho, Gottheimer, Gabbard

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in sending the below letter to Chairman Visclosky and Ranking Member Calvert encouraging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to continue to include esophageal cancer as one of the diseases eligible for funding under the Department
of Defense (DoD) Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) for FY 2021.

1. Esophageal cancer is one of the deadliest and fastest increasing cancers in the US and in
our nation’s military.

Esophageal cancer is the fastest increasing cancer diagnosis among American men, and it is most often detected at late stages because no screening protocol exists. As a result, most patients are diagnosed at late stages when the few treatment options available
are largely ineffective. The result is that 80 percent of patients, including American veterans, die within five years.

Congress has acknowledged the importance of addressing esophageal cancer by recognizing it as a recalcitrant cancer in the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012 and by including it as a disease eligible for research under the DoD’s PRCRP for the first
time last year. Further, those at greatest risk for esophageal cancer are men over the age of 55 who have a history of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), tobacco and/or alcohol use, and/or obesity – all risks that are higher in the country’s veteran
population compared to the general population.

2. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers esophageal cancer to be a disability for
which service connection is presumed.

One reason that the VA has taken this step is that some veterans have been exposed to some types of radiation that have been linked to the disease. In addition, veterans and their families who served or lived at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North
Carolina from the 1950s to the 1980s, were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals that have been linked to esophageal cancer.

3. We desperately need new approaches to fighting esophageal cancer, particularly given that
it is the fastest increasing cancer among American men.

Since 2009, the PRCRP has supported innovative and competitive cancer research to benefit our military and civilian populations. Each year, Congress specifies the cancers that will be eligible for research under this program. In 2019, esophageal cancer was
added for the first time as one of the 14 cancers eligible for high-risk/high reward research funding through the program. The DoD’s PRCRP is complimentary to research funding provided through the National Cancer Institute (NCI), but the funding awarded through
the two programs are inherently different.

While the NCI focuses on funding the best science regardless of the disease focus, the PRCRP focuses on funding the most compelling research for each specific disease. We need both approaches for esophageal cancer.

Due to the impact that esophageal cancer has on our military, their families, and the American public, and the fact that it is well established that there is a link between military service and this disease, the attached letter simply asks the Appropriations
Subcommittee on Defense to continue to include esophageal cancer to the PRCRP list for FY 2021. It does not include a request for a specific funding level for the program.

We encourage you to show your support for our current and future military members at risk for and suffering from esophageal cancer by signing
on to this letter. To sign on or if you have any questions, please contact Bobby Puckett in Rep. DeFazio’s office (5-6386 or
bobby.puckett@mail.house.gov) or Ashleigh Padgett in Rep. Loudermilk’s office (6-8726 or
ashleigh.padgett@mail.house.gov).

Sincerely,

Peter A. DeFazio                                                  Barry Loudermilk

Member of Congress                                            Member of Congress

__________________________________________________________________________

Dear Chairman Visclosky and Ranking Member Calvert:

As you begin deliberations on the fiscal year 2021 defense appropriations bill, we respectfully request that you continue to include esophageal cancer as a disease eligible for research funding through the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Peer Reviewed Cancer
Research Program (PRCRP), as you did last year.

Esophageal cancer is the fastest increasing cancer diagnosis among American men in both the military and the general population. In addition, four out of five patients (more than 80 percent) die within five years of receiving an esophageal cancer diagnosis.
It is one of America’s deadliest cancers, largely because no screening is available and few effective early detection tools or treatments exist. Further, those at greatest risk for esophageal cancer are men over the age of 55 who have a history of gastro-esophageal
reflux disease (GERD), tobacco and/or alcohol use, and/or obesity – all risks that are higher in the country’s veteran population compared to the general population.

Our military personnel and veterans also have additional risks. In fact, the VA has already established that there is a presumption of service connection for esophageal cancer. One reason for this step is that the radiation some veterans have been exposed
to has been shown to be linked to the disease. There is also a link to the contaminated drinking water at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from the 1950s to the 1980s. Veterans and their families who were stationed there were potentially
exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals that have been linked to esophageal cancer.

We greatly appreciate you including esophageal cancer in the PRCRP for the first time last year.  Given the lack of early detection tools and treatments, it is critical that esophageal cancer continue to be included in the PRCRP. A hallmark of the PRCRP
is its focus on high-risk, high-reward research, which makes it inherently different than the approach used by the National Cancer Institute. By continuing to include esophageal cancer as a disease eligible for funding under the PRCRP, Congress will be giving
all American men and women diagnosed with esophageal cancer a fighting chance for survival and a new hope for the future.

Congress established the PRCRP in FY 2009 to support research into specifically designated cancers with relevance to military service members and their families. Esophageal cancer clearly meets those criteria, particularly given the burden that it has and
is projected to have on the military and veteran population and the fact that the VA and Congress have already recognized links between military service and esophageal cancer. We respectfully request that you continue to include esophageal cancer as a disease
eligible for research funding in PRCRP for FY 2021. With your support, we will open new avenues of research to stop the devastation caused by this disease in both our military and civilian populations.

Sincerely,

 

_________________________

 

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Armed Services, HealthCare, Veterans

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