Legislation promoting early detection of breast cancer unites right and left on Capitol Hill

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Thumbnail for 7598By: Bruce Alpert

From: nola.com

Promoting early detection and medical care for breast cancer is uniting members of Congress from the left and right.

On Thursday, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a leading conservative, joined with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a liberal, to introduce legislation reauthorizing the 2010 EARLY Act, which has helped identify gaps in education and awareness among young women and health care providers.

In the House, the bill was introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. Wasserman Schultz is a breast-cancer survivor and chair of the Democratic National Committee. Ellmers is a former surgical nurse.

Vitter spoke about his personal connection to breast cancer in announcing his sponsorship of the reauthorization legislation.

“My wife Wendy tragically lost her mother to breast cancer when she was just 6. Her loss serves as a continual reminder to our family, including our three daughters, of how important it is to raise awareness about breast cancer and increasing resources to fight the disease,” Vitter said. “Elevating breast cancer prevention and early detection, increasing research, and expanding access to care will all help combat this disease that affects all of us.”

Over the last four years, the Centers for Disease Control used the EARLY Act to to identify gaps in education and awareness among young women and health care providers about breast health and started a targeted campaign to reach women at the highest risk, including those cancers caused by genetic mutations.

“Too many women and health practitioners believe breast cancer is not something that happens to younger women, but the hard truth is that more 26,000 women under age 45 are diagnosed with this deadly disease each year. I was one of them,” said Wasserman Schultz, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41 and after seven surgeries is now six years cancer-free. “I knew that once I recovered I had to make it one of my professional and personal priorities to do all that I could to help other young and higher-risk women know their risks and get the resources and support necessary to fight this disease.”

“I thank my colleagues Congresswoman Ellmers and Senators Klobuchar and Vitter for joining me in this effort to save more lives.”