HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain and Obama on Same Side in War on Cancer

The Washington Post reports that both Obama and McCain agree to fight harder in the battle against cancer by increasing research funding to better detect and treat cancer as well as support cancer survivors.  Deborah Charles writes,

Obama_and_mccain If there is one war John McCain and Barack Obama agree on, it's the one against cancer.

Thirty-seven years after President Richard Nixon launched the "war on cancer," the two U.S. presidential candidates agree on a need to fight the disease that kills more than 560,000 Americans each year.

The close personal ties each candidate has to the disease ensures that cancer advocates will find support in the White House regardless who wins the November 4 election.

McCain, the 72-year-old Republican presidential nominee, survived multiple skin cancers. Democratic nominee Barack Obama, 47, lost his grandfather to prostate cancer and watched his young mother die from ovarian cancer.

With 1.5 million Americans expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, McCain and Obama both say it is time to add some fire to the battle against cancer.

Though their plans differ in the details, both White House hopefuls want to increase research funding, streamline government organizations dealing with cancer and improve access to screening and clinical trials.

"We are pleased to see that both candidates acknowledge the importance of stepping up the fight against cancer, a disease that claims more than a half million lives and costs us more than $219 billion in medical costs and lost productivity each year," said Hala Moddelmog, president of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the global leader of the breast cancer movement.

"Funding for cancer research has been flat or declining for six years, which means fewer research grants are awarded, programs are scaled back, and fewer patients are being enrolled in clinical trials," she said.

Both candidates have pledged to increase U.S. investment in research to better detect and treat cancer and to help the 10.5 million cancer survivors in the country.


"Despite achieving many life-saving advances, the war against cancer is an ongoing struggle that continues every day," said McCain, who has had four malignant melanomas -- a potentially lethal type of skin cancer -- removed since 1993.

"This is a fight we must and will win as a nation," he said in a video statement aired during a telethon to fight cancer.

Obama, who in campaign speeches often talks about how frustrated he was that his mother was forced to argue with her insurance company from her hospital bed, vowed to improve insurance coverage and treatment for those with cancer.

"That was the most painful time of my life. She had ovarian cancer -- was diagnosed in February and was gone by November," Obama told Reuters in an interview on his airplane.

He said the personal links to cancer have sparked him to give priority to implementing a plan to fight the disease.

"I know what it does to families, I know what it does to people," he said.

"It is not going to be easy to completely eliminate cancer but when I think about all the steps that we can take that we're not taking, it makes me frustrated. It's something that I will prioritize as president," he said.

Cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong challenged both men to lay out their priorities in fighting cancer during the weekend televised celebrity fund-raiser. It raised more than $100 million.

Obama vowed to double funding for the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institutes to $10 billion, a promise that drew applause from the audience.

Asked in the Reuters interview about the increased funding, Obama said: "Ten billion dollars is real money, but that's what we spend in Iraq in a month."

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