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Higgins Testifies Before House Budget Committee on Cancer Research Funding

Mar 9, 2012
Press Release


In a House of Representatives Budget Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) advocated for Congress to make a sustained long-term investment in cancer and biomedical research. 
“In order to be successful, cancer research must be sustained over term,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the House Cancer Caucus. “It would be a failure of our institution to not recognize the potential of promising research taking place right now and give institutions, like Western New York’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the resources they need to save lives.”
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The text of Higgins’ testimony as delivered is below:
Thank you very much, Mr. Lankford and Mr. Honda, and also to Chairman Ryan and Ranking Member Van Hollen. 
I’m here to urge you in the strongest possible terms to double the nation’s commitment to cancer research. Funding for the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health are fundamentally important to tackling this disease that kills so many of our fellow Americans. The importance of cancer research is understanding that it has to be funded and sustained over the longer term. It doesn’t work when you stop and start. The only failure in cancer research is when you quit or you’re forced to quit because of lack of funding.  
There were 3 ways historically to deal with cancer: you could burn it out through radiation, you could cut it out through surgery, or you could kill it through toxic chemicals. We know because of our nation’s commitment to cancer research that there are promising new therapies called smart drugs that attack the cancer cells without hurting the healthy cells. We read recently of the use of vaccines, not only as prevention for cancer but also as therapies. They boost the body’s immune system to help the body better fight naturally cancers that exist within the body. But by not sustaining cancer research, we’re losing good research, but we’re also losing good researchers, who are leaving the field. 10 years ago, 20-25% of cancer promising new research was funded. Today it’s about 8%. This nation has to understand the importance of sustained cancer research. 
I represent the first comprehensive cancer center in the entire nation – Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Buffalo and Western New York gave the nation and the world cancer research. It started at the predecessor of Roswell Park Cancer Institute called the New York State Cancer Laboratory.
Treating cancer early not only saves lives but also saves the nation funding. So it’s very, very important that this Congress realize in a bipartisan way its moral responsibility to fully find cancer research so that we can more effectively treat those who are afflicted and help heal spiritually those who love the afflicted. 
One thing I want to make note of as I conclude: and that is that less than 10% of cancer deaths are attributed to the original tumor. It’s when cancer advances, when it moves, when it metastasizes to a vital organ is when it becomes lethal.
Because of research we have seen very promising drugs – smart drugs – Herceptin for breast cancer, Gleevec for gastrointestinal stromal tumors and chronic myelogenous leukemia that have been highly effective in saving lives and saving this nation money. 
I implore you to include in a budget resolution a doubling of cancer research because these budgets, they don’t only fund important programs, they’re value statements and they say something about our nation and what we’re committed to. I respectfully ask you to consider this testimony and that of others who are urging a doubling of cancer and biomedical research in this budget.
With that, I yield back. Thank you.