Late last week, a 10-year survivor of peritoneal mesothelioma testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, asking them to fund crucial research that would allow victims of asbestos-caused cancer to potentially live a longer life, even after a devastating mesothelioma diagnosis.
According to a press release by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), Bonnie Anderson – who functioned as a representative of MARF and a member of the mesothelioma community – appeared before the committee to request that they continue to fund mesothelioma research through the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Society. The funding, which has decreased consistently, would help researchers explore new treatments and would assist in implementing clinical trials to test new drugs.
Because there is only one FDA-approved drug designated specifically for the treatment of mesothelioma, notes Anderson, the funding of clinical trials is more important than ever. Anderson is a prime example of the good things that can come from successful clinical trials. At the time of her peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis 10 years ago, she was given a grim prognosis. Doctors told her she had only 6 months to live. She enrolled in a clinical trial, which has added years to her life – extra time with her family that would have been thought impossible just a few years ago.
“I participated knowing I could face devastating side effects but with the hope I could help doctors learn how to treat mesothelioma and possibly add precious minutes to my time with my family,” explained Anderson.
Unfortunately, however, funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has decreased rather than increased over the last few years. In 2010, notes the press release from MARF, NCI spent $8.3 million for the research of mesothelioma. This was a 6 percent decrease from 2009 and a 14 percent decrease from 2008.
“This steady decline in funding terrifies me as a patient anxiously awaiting development of new treatments,” stressed Anderson. At this juncture, unless researchers have the funds to continue, patients like myself will have run out of treatment options and will die from this disease.”