WASHINGTON, DC — In an effort to boost pediatric cancer research and expand child-focused cancer treatments and resources for families affected by childhood cancer, President Biden today signed into law U.S. Senator Jack Reed’s (D-RI) Childhood Cancer STAR Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 4120).
The Childhood Cancer STAR Act reauthorization is a comprehensive measure designed to help thousands of children who undergo cancer treatment each year and find new cures and effective treatments for patients and support for families.
The Childhood Cancer STAR Reauthorization Act helps advance pediatric cancer research and child-focused cancer treatments, while also improving childhood cancer surveillance and providing resources for survivors and those impacted by childhood cancer. Since Reed’s original Childhood Cancer STAR Act was signed into law five years ago, it has helped deliver over $150 million to fund promising childhood cancer research and assist patients and families battling cancer.
“This is a win for children, families, and promising new research to combat childhood cancer. Reauthorizing the STAR Act will hopefully accelerate progress toward better treatments, therapies, and a cure and ensure every child has the best possible chance to beat cancer,” said Senator Reed. “I’m so grateful to the survivors, families, and advocates who worked hard to get this reauthorization across the finish line. It prioritizes pediatric cancer research and adds some extra reinforcements and support for families in their time of need. It will help lead to more advancements in treating and curing pediatric cancer. It will develop new strategies to help survivors overcome late health effects, such as secondary cancers, and offer a lifetime of support. I thank my colleagues who helped get it passed and appreciate President Biden swiftly signing it into law.”
Reed’s bipartisan law, which has been called “the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever introduced into Congress,” was first passed in 2018 and scheduled to sunset after five years or be reauthorized. Today’s reauthorization means the law’s vital programs may continue for another five years, subject to future annual appropriations.
Childhood cancer research has progressed in recent years, but after accidents, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14, according to the American Cancer Society. Health experts estimate that nearly 10,500 children in the United States under the age of 15 were diagnosed with cancer last year.
There are over one hundred different subtypes of childhood cancers. Most new cancer diagnoses in children are for leukemia (28.1%) and brain/CNS cancers (26.5%), while malignant epithelial neoplasms and melanomas (23.3%) and brain/CNS cancers (21.9%) are top cancers for adolescents, according to Children’s Cancer Cause.
The Senate version of the bill has 38 cosponsors, led by Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
In the House, U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX), Jackie Speier (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Mike Kelly (R-PA), co-authored and championed companion legislation.
Summary: The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 4120)
Expand Opportunities for Childhood Cancer Research: Due to the relatively small population of children with cancer and the geographic distance between these children, researching childhood cancer can be challenging. As such, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act reauthorizes and expands existing efforts at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to collect biospecimens for childhood cancer patients enrolled in NCI-sponsored clinical trials to collect and maintain relevant clinical, biological, and demographic information on all children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer.
Improve Childhood Cancer Surveillance: Building upon previous efforts, this bill authorizes grants to state cancer registries to identify and track incidences of child, adolescent, and young adult cancer. This funding will be used to identify and train reporters of childhood cancer cases, secure infrastructure to ensure early reporting and capture of child cancer incidences, and support the collection of cases into a national childhood cancer registry.
Help Improve Quality of Life Opportunities for Childhood Cancer Survivors: Unfortunately, even after beating cancer, as many as two-thirds of survivors suffer from late effects of their disease or treatment, including secondary cancers and organ damage. This legislation will enhance research on the late effects of childhood cancers, improve collaboration among providers so that doctors are better able to care for this population as they age, and establish a new pilot program to begin to explore innovative models of care for childhood cancer survivors.
Ensure Pediatric Expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Requires the inclusion of at least one expert in pediatric oncology on the National Cancer Advisory Board and would improve childhood health reporting requirements to include pediatric cancer.