In the 29 years since the Nixon administration and Congress declared war on cancer with the passage of the National Cancer Act, physicians and scientists have discerned cancer’s origins, found ways to treat it and made previously lethal forms of it manageable. Now a Senate advisory committee is looking at ways to update the act to incorporate this new knowledge. Leading the committee as co-chair is Vincent T. DeVita Jr., M.D., director of the Yale Cancer Center and one of the nation’s leading cancer experts. “Our knowledge of cancer, cancer research and cancer control have changed substantially since the original National Cancer Act was enacted,” says DeVita, who believes cancer may someday be managed as a chronic disease. He served as director of the National Cancer Institute for nine years under presidents Carter and Reagan. “I look forward to uniting the cancer community to formulate a new blueprint for the war on cancer.”
The 20-member committee, which will meet monthly throughout the year, includes physicians, scientists, business leaders, insurance executives and people with cancer. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, asked DeVita to serve on the committee. The advisory committee will work with the National Dialogue on Cancer (NDC), of which DeVita is also a member. The NDC is led by former President George Bush and brings together people in public, private and non-profit organizations dedicated to eradicating cancer.