By Tessa Vellek
The Department of Defense appropriations measure for the fiscal year 2015, approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee July 17, decreased overall funding for peer-reviewed cancer research programs by 4.5 percent.
The committee recommended adjusting DoD’s health research budget to $120 million for breast cancer research, $64 million for prostate cancer research, $10 million for ovarian cancer research, and $50 million for the peer-reviewed cancer research program that would research cancers not addressed in the aforementioned programs, according to the Senate report.
The breast cancer program will see no changes from the current fiscal year, but both prostate cancer research and ovarian cancer research were slated for decreases in funding of 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. There was no mention of a lung cancer research program in the Senate’s report for the next fiscal year, although in fiscal year 2014 the program received $10.5 million.
Nine cancers are eligible to compete for the funding provided through the $50 million adjustment: colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, melanoma, mesothelioma, myelproliferative disorders, neuroblastoma, pancreatic cancer, and stomach cancer.
The House has not acted on its version of the spending bill.
The House report, dated June 13, recommends $120 million for breast cancer research, $80 million for prostate cancer research, $20 million for ovarian cancer research, $10.5 million for lung cancer research, and $15 million for the peer-reviewed cancer research program that would research cancers not addressed in the aforementioned programs.
“Funding for the DOD peer reviewed breast cancer research program is vital to making real progress in breast cancer,” Frances Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, said to The Cancer Letter. “This program focuses on research that has the greatest impact for women and men with and at risk for breast cancer in addition to innovative approaches to the issue.
“The program is a model for advocate involvement as collaborators with scientists and affects not just what is funded through DOD, but breast cancer research everywhere.”
The Senate report encourages investment in melanoma research because of the rise of melanoma and the extreme conditions and high exposure to solar radiation that service members face in theater.
“The Melanoma Research Foundation has worked with many melanoma patients who were or currently are in the military and we see the impact this disease has on their lives,” said Tim Turnham, executive director of the Melanoma Research Foundation. “The increasing incidence of melanoma among service personnel is not surprising, given the undeniable link between melanoma and exposure to UV radiation. The MRF and MRA jointly applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for expanding its protection for those who are sacrificing to protect us.”
In total, $1.4 billion of the DoD’s appropriations are dedicated to health research and development. The 2015 fiscal year appropriations increased DoD’s core medical research budget as well as congressionally-directed medical research funding by $789 million, or 5 percent more than the amounts in the current fiscal year.
“This bill also protects America’s leadership at the cutting edge of innovation,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Defense Subcommittee, said in a statement.
“For decades, Defense Department technologies have revolutionized the world. Many of these breakthroughs began as a novel solution to a military problem. We must continue to invest in medical breakthroughs and technological advancements that keep us at the forefront of innovation, improve the health and safety of our troops and contribute to our overall national security.”