Pa.’s Boyle, Fitzpatrick back bill to study, prevent lung cancer in women | Thursday Morning Coffee

‘Every eight minutes, an American woman loses her life to lung cancer,’ U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District, said

By: - July 13, 2023 7:10 am

(Getty Images)

Newly introduced legislation on Capitol Hill aims to study — and prevent — the incidence of lung cancer in American women, an illness that claims the life of one American woman every eight minutes.

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District (Twitter).
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District (Twitter).

Pennsylvania U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, are shepherding the bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House, their offices said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Shelly Moore Capito, of West Virginia, joined by Democratic U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, also of West Virginia, and Dianne Feinstein, of California, are backing a reintroduced, companion bill.

Other Senate backers of the bill include Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly, of Arizona; Alex Padilla, of California; Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, and Tina Smith of Minnesota.

As it’s currently written, the bill, dubbed the ‘Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventative Services Act of 2023,’ would require the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, in conjunction with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to “conduct an interagency review to evaluate research on women and lung cancer, how women are given access to lung cancer preventive services and conduct public awareness campaigns on lung cancer,” the lawmakers said in their statement.

An estimated 59,510 women nationwide will die of lung cancer this year, Rubio noted in a statement, citing American Cancer Society data. One in five women diagnosed with the illness are lifetime nonsmokers, the lawmakers said.

In that joint statement, Boyle pointed to a “a concerning disparity” in lung cancer treatment “particularly affecting women.

“Every eight minutes, an American woman loses her life to lung cancer. The decline in lung cancer rates among women lags behind that of men,” the Philadelphia Democrat said.

If approved, the bill would “[signify] a crucial stride toward ensuring that all Americans, regardless of gender, are shielded from the harrowing impact of this disease. The time has come for the federal government to confront this issue head-on, employing focused research and decisive action to address the urgent demands it presents,” Boyle said.

Cherry blossoms outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. (Capital-Star photo by Jennifer Shutt).
Cherry blossoms outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. (Capital-Star photo by Jennifer Shutt).

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District (WikiMedia Commons)

The bill “will empower the medical community to commission more research into both prevention and treatment of lung cancer in women, including for non-smokers, and I am proud to join my colleagues in this effort,” Fitzpatrick said.

As a state, “West Virginia is disproportionately impacted by lung cancer. While our numbers have improved in recent years, we must continue to expand both preventive efforts, as well as management,” Capito said.

One advocate praised the bill.

“For decades investment in research to understand lung cancer’s unique impact on women has lagged, resulting in poor health and economic outcomes for women, their families and the nation”, Laurie Fenton Ambrose, the president & CEO of the support organization GO2 for Lung Cancer, said in a statement.

“There are sex differences in many facets of the disease, including risk factors, clinical characteristics, progression and length of survival,” Ambrose continued. “A better understanding of the role these factors play can advance preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic practice is critical to improving outcomes for women and men impacted by the leading cause of cancer death. Enacting this legislation gives us the opportunity to change this trajectory now.”


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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.