North Hollywood, CA–March 26, 2009 - The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)—supporting research and providing education, advocacy and support for myeloma patients, families, researchers and physicians—today expressed support for the bi-partisan "21st Century Cancer ALERT Act," sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. The bill provides a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention, detection and treatment while it emphasizes continuing research and better coordination among existing efforts.
"Multiple myeloma is an example of the progress that can be made and the work that still lies ahead in the war on cancer," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF. "Many of our patients are living proof of what innovative drug development and clinical research can achieve - sequential remissions, long-term survival and good quality of life. But these achievements are not a substitute for a cure, so we welcome and support this legislation, and look forward to working with Senators Kennedy and Hutchison as it moves through the legislative process."
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that affects production of blood cells and can damage bone. The legislation recognizes the advances that have been made in treating cancer but notes specifically that myeloma and seven other lethal cancers "have a 5-year survival rate of less than 50 percent." The IMF is pleased to note that the proposed legislation calls for the National Cancer Institute to establish a specific grants program for these cancers and to report annually on progress regarding research in these crucial areas.
The bill also calls for increased coordination and greater flexibility in cancer research and encourages the FDA to facilitate the development of new drugs. It also places an emphasis on awareness of and access to clinical trials, ensuring that patients know about the most advanced research underway, and it recommends an intensified research program to study the role of cancer caused by occupational or environmental exposure to carcinogens.
"The IMF believes collaboration is the cornerstone of progress in cancer – and we have seen this work by bringing together leading researchers from multiple institutions across international borders, adding expert nurses to our teams, and working closely with our partners in the private sector," said David Girard, executive director of the IMF. "We look forward to expanding these relationships within the myeloma community and serving as a model for other cancers to follow."
Myeloma affects an estimated 750,000 people worldwide, and in industrialized countries it is being diagnosed in growing numbers and in increasingly younger people.
ABOUT the International Myeloma Foundation
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 185,000 members in 113 countries worldwide.
A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses in four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 200 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a Cure®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE. The global website is www.myeloma.org.