2011.12.20 Victory for Women with Ovarian Cancer: Congress Agrees to Fund Needed Research, Education Programs for Fiscal Year 2012

Washington, DC—The omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress on December 17 includes funding for three ovarian cancer research and education programs. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance worked with thousands of advocates across the country to fight for federal funding for these programs. Thanks to these efforts, Congress has made the following appropriations for fiscal year 2012:

  • $5 million for Johanna’s Law: The Gynecologic Education and Awareness Act, which received no funding in last year’s appropriations bill;
  • $4.9 million for the Ovarian Cancer Control Initiative run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
  • $16 million for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) run by the Department of Defense.

“This is a tremendous victory for women with ovarian cancer and those who love them,” noted Karen Orloff Kaplan, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. “We were deeply concerned when last year’s bill eliminated funding for Johanna’s Law; early versions of this year’s budget also proposed drastic cuts to ovarian cancer research. Thankfully, our champions in Congress recognized the need to fund these programs.”

“An estimated 15,000 will die from ovarian cancer in 2012,” says Dr. Kaplan. “We rely on federal funding to educate women about the risks, signs and symptoms of this disease, and to support innovative research projects that could lead to an early detection test or better treatments. Women across the nation are breathing a sigh of relief today that critical ovarian cancer research will continue, and educational programs begin anew.”

Representative Dan Burton (R-IN), a leading supporter of ovarian cancer research funding, said: “I am very pleased that the House Appropriations Committee saw fit to secure funding to continue ovarian cancer research and education programs in the Fiscal Year 2012 Omnibus package. Eighty percent of women are diagnosed with this form of cancer in the disease’s later stages, significantly decreasing the probability of successful treatment. This is due largely to the fact that so little is known about ovarian cancer. It is my sincere hope that through further innovation and cross-institutional research practices, we can better understand, treat, and ultimately beat this devastating disease that affects women across this Nation.”

Representative Rose DeLauro (D-CT) was also a champion for ovarian cancer funding this year. “As a survivor of ovarian cancer, I know how vital funding for cancer research is. I was lucky, and had excellent doctors who found the cancer by chance. I underwent treatment and I am fortunate to say that for 25 years now, I have been cancer-free—but I know that had my doctors not caught my cancer at the earliest state, the final outcome might have been very different. No one should have to rely on luck to survive. Research is a critical component in the fight against this disease, and I was very pleased that we were able to preserve funding for ovarian cancer research and Johanna’s Law implementation in the appropriations legislation passed by the House of Representatives.”

Representatives Burton and DeLauro took the lead on a “Dear Colleague” letter that encouraged funding for the OCRP, saying: “OCRP research produces innovative, high impact and valuable results through strategic partnerships between advocates, lab scientists and clinicians.”

The Senate initially proposed cutting funds for the OCRP in half—from $20 million in FY2011 to just $10 million. The Alliance organized a letter urging Congress to support the House’s proposed funding of $16 million, which was signed by the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other national and regional cancer organizations. The letter noted: “The OCRP’s unique method of funding ovarian cancer research has yielded tremendous breakthroughs in the fight against ovarian cancer.”

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is the foremost advocate for women with ovarian cancer in the United States. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, the organization advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a 501 (c) (3) organization established in 1997.