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Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Representing the 7th District of New York

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Velázquez Calls for Liver Cancer Prevention, Treatment Resources

Velázquez Calls for Liver Cancer Prevention, Treatment Resources
October 29, 2018
Press Release

Velázquez Calls for Liver Cancer Prevention, Treatment Resources

Washington, DC –As the nation observes Liver Cancer Awareness Month, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today unveiled legislation to increase federal assistance to study, prevent and treat liver cancer. 

When compared with other cancers, liver cancer has traditionally been unfunded at the federal level.  The ailment disproportionally affects Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. The “Liver Illness, Visibility, Education, and Research (LIVER) Act of 2018,” would allocate needed federal dollars to help at-risk populations prevent and treat liver cancer and would dedicate greater federal research dollars toward finding a cure. 

“Too many of our neighbors have lost a loved one due to liver cancer or are struggling themselves to fight this disease,” said Velázquez. “My legislation would give our local hospitals and community health centers federal support they deserve to study liver cancer and help our neighbors access preventative and primary cancer services.” 

Since liver cancer is rarely detected early, it has a high mortality rate. In 2018, approximately 42,220 people in the United States will be diagnosed with primary liver cancer, and approximately 30,200 will die from the disease. The disease is particularly prevalent among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander men and women, who have 2.1 and 2.3 times the incidence of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer as compared to the non-Hispanic white population. However, scientists have noted that taking preventative steps such as increasing vaccinations and improving treatments for hepatitis could significantly reduce the prevalence of liver cancer. 
 
“Like so many other types of cancer, liver cancer becomes much more treatable when it is detected early,” said Velázquez. “By deploying federal resources to help local treatment and research facilities encourage at-risk New Yorkers to get screened for liver cancer, we can help to save lives and lessen the deadly consequences of this disease.” 

Velázquez’s bill would direct the National Cancer Institute to create a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for primary liver cancer and makes hospitals and healthcare facilities eligible to receive funding for experimental treatment and prevention programs. Additionally, the bill would mandate two new grant programs at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) one to increase prevention services and another to target informational materials towards at-risk populations. To facilitate research efforts, the bill would start a Liver Disease Division within National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), to establish a working group to coordinate research efforts, and directing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and NIDDK to issue targeted calls for research proposals.

Velázquez’s bill has been endorsed by numerous local and national organizations including: 
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO); Hep B United, Hep B Foundation; Betances Health Center; Charles B. Wang Community Health Center; Lower East Side Service Center; African Services Committee; Family Health Centers at NYU Langone; and Montefiore Health System.