By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director
NIH Completes In-Depth Genomic Analysis of 33 Cancer Types
Researchers for the PanCancer Atlas, a genomic data set reference tool, recently completed an analysis of molecular and clinical information from more than 10,000 different tumors spanning more than 33 cancer types. The PanCancer Atlas is the result of nearly a decade’s worth of work associated with the Cancer Genome Atlas—a multi-institutional program driven by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The results of the analysis were published as a set of 27 papers.
The National Institutes of Health, NCI, and National Institute of Nursing Research are leaders in groundbreaking cancer research. The topic is a bipartisan favorite on Capitol Hill, so when researchers release studies with real advancements—such as genomic identification to diseases people know—it's a success story. Updates are welcomed and promoted by the healthcare advocacy community, and they also provide a real opportunity to raise public awareness and federal support for investment in biomedical research. As part of ONS's advocacy work, the Society continues to be an active partner in supporting cancer research legislative priorities.
Senate Panel Unveils Draft Bill to Combat Opioid Addiction
As the opioid epidemic continues to affect Americans across the country, committees on Capitol Hill regularly introduce new legislation. After weighing expert opinions, the experiences of affected families, and information from healthcare advocacy groups, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee unveiled a draft bill to fight the opioid epidemic by tapping into the expertise of key federal agencies. The bipartisan bill will be up for discussion in early April 2018.
As an omnipresent healthcare issue, opioid addiction and abuse elicit mixed responses from politicians, patients, and providers alike. Some federal agencies, such as those in the National Institutes of Health, know that too much legislation for pain medication may introduce barriers to patients—including cancer survivors—who need access to life-changing prescription medications. By connecting with lawmakers, ONS is becoming a respected expert on the issue of chronic pain management, patients with cancer, and cancer survivorship in the face of a national opioid epidemic. ONS continues to work with coalitions to educate officials on the important aspects of symptom management and access to care.
Devices to Quit Smoking Become the Devices Teenagers Can't Quit
Electronic nicotine delivery devices, namely e-cigarettes, were initially touted as alternatives for smokers struggling to quit. Manufacturers marketed the devices as step-down programs for adults addicted to tobacco and nicotine. However, teen smoking rates, especially e-cigarette usage, have been directly affected by the introduction of vaping devices. Reports from across the country show that teens struggle to quit the vaping habit, ironically hooked on the e-cigarettes that were once marketed as potential smoking cessation tools.
Seeing patients with lung cancer, throat cancer, and other cancers related to tobacco use, oncology nurses are on the front lines of the smoking cessation war. For years, ONS and its members have been vocal voices for tobacco cessation, especially through federal agencies. The introduction and use of vaping hasn't changed those efforts, although it has introduced the possibilities for possible step-down programs. Unfortunately, many vaping products have been designed for and marketed to children and teens, inducting a new generation of potential smokers. Elected officials and federal agencies have taken some time to fully recognize vaping as a tobacco product. But with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's renewed emphasis on tobacco regulation, the vaping issue may soon play out. ONS will continue to advocate for regulatory practices regarding tobacco, including smokeless tobacco products like e-cigarettes, and will work with lawmakers to encourage smoking cessation as a matter of public health and cancer prevention.