By Dede Sweeney, ONS Director of Government Affairs
On May 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.B. 292, the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act. The legislation will improve efforts to identify and track childhood cancer incidence, improve quality of life for childhood cancer survivors, ensure pediatric expertise at the National Institutes of Health by requiring the National Cancer Advisory Board to have at least one pediatric oncology expert on its board, and identify opportunities to increase childhood cancer research to better treat the 10,270 children diagnosed with cancer in the United States every year.
ONS sent a letter regarding the bipartisan legislation in February 2017 to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and ONS recently sent letters to the House leadership urging them to expedite a House vote in favor of the bill. The bill passed in the Senate on March 22, 2018, and now that the House has approved it by voice vote, it has been sent to the president’s desk for signature into law.
Although the overall outlook for children with cancer has improved greatly in the past 50 years, many children experience secondary cancers or long-term complications. Oncology nurses, with their regular involvement in administering treatments and managing side effects, see firsthand the physical, emotional, and financial challenges that children with cancer and their families face throughout their diagnosis and treatment. Nurses are also pivotal in following children over time, coordinating their care, and providing survivorship care plans for adult survivors of childhood cancer. ONS supports the legislation because it will advance pediatric cancer research and child-focused treatments.