Recent Op-Eds

Fighting for a Cure

January 26, 2007

Through increased research and awareness, cancer prevention is taking root in our country and keeping more and more Americans healthy. On January 17, the American Cancer Society's 2007 Annual Statistics Report announced that deaths caused by cancer significantly decreased by 3,014 Americans from 2003 to 2004. This is the steepest drop in cancer deaths ever recorded.

This is encouraging news in the fight against cancer. Each year, cancer's fierce grip burdens families across the country--claiming the lives of loved ones and causing hardship and heartache for millions. In South Dakota alone, there are 4,000 new cases of cancer each year.

Many strides have already been made to boost funding and support for cancer research and prevention. In the past five years, Congress and the Administration have increased National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for cancer research by 26 percent. Thankfully, with this help, a recent, important advance has emerged from the NIH: the Cancer Genome Atlas.

The Cancer Genome Atlas Project, which was started in 2005, is a three-year, $100 million project undertaken by NIH's National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute. The project is investigating lung, brain, and ovarian cancer, which are responsible for more than 210,000 cases in the U.S. each year.

Technologies developed through the project are already being used by scientists across the country in understanding the genetic sources of cancer. Experts hope that a deeper, systematic understanding of cancer genomics will provide greater insight into the mechanisms that cause the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells and their spread throughout the human body.

As a member of the Senate Cancer Coalition, a bipartisan task force that focuses on issues concerning cancer detection, treatment, and prevention, I have worked to support of the Administration's goal of eliminating cancer death and suffering by the year 2015. This is an ambitious goal, but one we should strive to achieve to put an end to this aggressive disease that has already taken too many lives.

I encourage all South Dakotans to become active and committed to fighting for a cure. South Dakotans can learn more about getting involved by contacting South Dakota's Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at (605) 224-3595 or the American Cancer Society (

Through awareness, prevention, early detection, and treatment, we can battle cancer together and continue to aid the success of cancer research and development not only at home in South Dakota, but across the nation.