You’ve probably heard the famous “Schoolhouse Rock!” song about how a bill becomes a law, but did you know that there are currently two early detection bills we want to become law being considered on Capitol Hill?
It’s true! And while PanCAN’s advocacy priority remains the passage of the fiscal year 2023 budget – including an increase in federal research funding for pancreatic cancer – PanCAN has signed their name to a community letter in support of both bills: the Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act (RHCA) and the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act (MCED).
Both bills align with PanCAN’s focus on early detection and access to testing.
About 10% of pancreatic cancers are hereditary. This means that for every 10 people with pancreatic cancer, one likely has an inherited mutation that increased their risk for developing the disease.
Patients who receive treatment based on their biology can live longer. PanCAN strongly recommends all pancreatic cancer patients get genetic testing for inherited mutations as soon as possible after diagnosis and biomarker testing of their tumor tissue to help determine the best treatment options. And if you are a first-degree relative of someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
That’s why PanCAN supports the Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act – to make it less cost prohibitive for people with Medicare to get the genetic testing they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Right now, Medicare only covers genetic testing for people already diagnosed with cancer, regardless of family history. The RHCA aims to ensure that those on Medicare get access to genetic testing for hereditary cancer risk, increased screening and risk-reducing interventions, when medically necessary and appropriate.
Diagnosing pancreatic cancer in its earlier stages can lead to more treatment options, including surgery, and better survival, but currently, there is no standard screening test to detect pancreatic cancer early, when it’s more treatable. PanCAN’s Early Detection Initiative is working to change that, thanks to supporters like you. And when those screening tests are brought to life, they’ll need to be accessible to those who need them.
The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act responds to a misalignment between advances in science and Medicare. This bill creates the authority for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to evaluate and cover blood-based multi-cancer early detection tests and future testing methods, once approved by the FDA.
The bill doesn’t make coverage automatic upon FDA approval, but if passed, it will shorten the time between FDA approval and coverage by Medicare if clinical benefit is shown because the process will already be arranged.
These bills are especially meaningful during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, because they support better access to the latest scientific advances. So, while we push for Research for All of Us this November, let’s strive for access for all of us year-round.
And if you have questions about genetic and biomarker testing or want to know about your risk for pancreatic cancer, contact PanCAN Patient Services and connect with a highly trained case manager who can help answer your questions.