The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act of 2015
The Star Act, a bill trying to be passed by Congressman Michael McCaul, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, and Senator Jack Reed, aims to benefit childhood cancer research and patients. The Star Act “would improve efforts to identify and track childhood cancer incidences, improve the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors, ensure publicly accessible expanded access policies that provide hope for patients who have run out of options, and identify opportunities to expand the research of therapeutics necessary to treat the 15,780 children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. every year.” Due to the difficulty of childhood cancer research itself, The Star Act would authorize the NCI to “expand existing efforts.” This bill would also grant the rights to state cancer registries in order to identify and track all forms of cancer. Funding would also go towards advancing and improving the reporting of childhood cancer cases. Due to the fact that two thirds of cancer survivors endure negative side effects after treatment stops, the Star Act would enhance research “on the late effects of childhood cancers, including a study on insurance coverage and payment of care for childhood cancer survivors.” Furthermore, this legislation aims to ensure patients’ access to publicly available compassionate use policies, a “process by which a patient with a serious or life-threatening illness can be granted access to new, unapproved therapies outside of clinical trials, when there is no comparable alternative.” The Star Act’s final goal is to include at least one pediatric oncologist on the National Advisory Board in order to ensure expertise on childhood cancer at the NIH. With so many children fighting this deadly disease, we need the Star Act to help win the war over childhood cancer!