Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act 2023: A Much-Needed Step for Veterans’ Healthcare

A military veteran consulting with a cancer registry professional in a healthcare office conference room

A momentous piece of legislation, the Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act of 2023, was recently introduced by Senator Mark Kelly and Senator Thom Tillis. It has drawn praise from key cancer organizations, The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR), for its efforts to address cancer in the veterans’ community. Here’s why this act is essential:

Who Does it Affect?

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the largest integrated health care system in the country, providing services to 9 million veterans annually. However, tens of thousands of cancer cases among these veterans have been slipping through the cracks every year. These cases are crucial for research and understanding cancer trends.

What Changes Does the Act Bring?

Before the introduction of the Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act, many VA facilities were not consistently reporting cancer data. “In 2019, an estimated 23,305 cancer cases went unreported due to non-reporting by VA facilities.” The new legislation aims to ensure that cancer cases among veterans are fully accounted for in national cancer registries. This means that the data from all 122 VA facilities treating cancer will be made available for national research and analysis.

Importance in Addressing Cancer Disparities Among Veterans

This legislation is incredibly important for several reasons. Firstly, by ensuring that cancer cases among veterans are recorded accurately, it can help identify cancer-related disparities within the veterans’ community. This understanding is vital in tailoring healthcare services to meet their unique needs.

Inclusion in Clinical Trials and Research

The inclusion of veterans in cancer registries can significantly enhance the chances for veterans with cancer to participate in clinical trials and benefit from cutting-edge treatments. Their inclusion is also essential for cancer-related research and analysis which can lead to new breakthroughs.

The Role of a Specialized Team

With the increase in data collection, it’s crucial to have a specialized cancer registry team that can efficiently handle and analyze these cases. This team would not only ensure the accuracy of data but can also help in identifying trends, which can be monumental in cancer research and subsequently, in developing targeted treatment methods.

In summary, the Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act of 2023 is a step in closing the reporting gap in cancer cases among veterans. By ensuring accurate data reporting, it helps in understanding and addressing the unique cancer-related challenges faced by veterans, and also enriches national cancer research. The significance of a specialized team in tackling these cases cannot be overstated as they would be at the forefront of collecting, analyzing and reporting this crucial information.

Read the official press release here.


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