One of the most exciting projects recently launched and led by Ohio State’s cancer program is a statewide initiative to screen newly diagnosed colorectal cancer (CRC).
MICHAEL A. CALIGIURI, MD
OFFICER, JAMES CANCER
HOSPITAL AND SOLOVE
THE OHIO STATE
UNIVERSITY, JOHN L.
FOUNDATION CHAIR IN
About 3 percent of CRC cases stem from Lynch syndrome (LS), which is characterized by inherited mutations in one of four genes for DNA-repair proteins. Each CRC patient with LS has, on average, three relatives with LS, heightening their risk for cancer. As you will read in “Going Statewide” in this issue of Frontiers, these screenings, embodied in the Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative (OCCPI), could save many lives by identifying those at risk so they can take precautionary measures.
Making this project even more extraordinary, it is supported in large part by funds from Pelotonia, an annual grassroots bicycle tour that raises millions of dollars for cancer research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). In just four years, Pelotonia has become the nation’s largest single-event biking fundraiser as measured by the number of riders. Pelotonia 12 drew 6,212 riders from 43 states and three countries, as well as 3,141 virtual riders. Collectively these individuals, along with more than 80,000 donors, raised nearly $16.9 million, bringing the four-year total for this event to more than $42 million.
That’s the kind of financial firepower we need to help offset dwindling government allocations for cancer research so we can keep pursuing such innovative endeavors as the OCCPI – especially since the federal funding picture will likely remain dire for the near future.
Harold Varmus, MD, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), reported in May that the NCI budget for the current year will be about $4.78 billion, or $293 million less than in fiscal 2012 – a 5.8-percent reduction. He said this is attributable mainly to sequestration, the automatic across-the-board cuts in federal spending that began last March, along with further reductions mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services to support various Departmental obligations.
These cuts require us to do what we can to help ourselves. Pelotonia 13 will unfold from Aug. 9-11 in central Ohio, and I strongly encourage anyone who shares our vision of creating a cancer-free world to join us as a rider, virtual rider, donor or volunteer. More information is available at www.pelotonia.org. I hope to see you on the road.