Cancer Patients and Research Will Benefit from Two New State Laws
In early 2016, representatives of the California Society of Pathologists and the California Cancer Network met with Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla’s staff to inform them about the formation of the California Data Modernization Consortium (CDCM) – and to explain its goals of modernizing the outdated data-reporting methods to the California Cancer Registry (CCR). It was decided that some changes in cancer reporting to CCR be based on CDMC’s recommendations, but it was clear that three things needed to happen imminently: (1) initial reporting of cancer diagnoses should come from pathologists, (2) reporting should be in a standardized format, and (3) pathology reports of diagnosed cancers should be submitted electronically.
After dialogue with a number of stakeholders, Assemblywoman Bonilla (D-Concord) sponsored and introduced two bills that were approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. They are:
- AB 1823, signed on Sep. 26, 2016, which creates the California Clinical Trials Program. Its intent is to increase access to clinical trials by all cancer patients, especially women and members of underrepresented communities. The University of California will administer the program, including by raising funds and then distributing grants aimed at reducing barriers that keep some patients from participating in clinical trials.
- AB 2325, signed on Sept. 14, 2016, which permits researchers working on clinical trials to ask cancer patients directly whether they wish to participate in innovative treatments. This legislation also requires electronic pathology reporting, thereby improving clinicians’ ability to match cancer patients with cutting-edge, potentially lifesaving new treatments.
“Research and access are the two most important factors in our fight against cancer,” said Bonilla. “AB 2325 will significantly enhance cancer research in our state by modernizing the California Cancer Registry and linking patients with the best and most current trials available, and AB 1823 will increase patient access to clinical trials by creating grants which will help cover expenses for participation, improve awareness through education and community outreach, and fund tools to assist patients with identifying their trial options.”
CCR is a program of the California Department of Public Health. It operates a population-based surveillance system that collects information on all cancers diagnosed in the state. These data further the understanding of cancer risks and trends, and are used to develop strategies and policies for cancer prevention, treatment and control. There will be nearly 1.7 million new cancer cases and almost 600,000 deaths from the disease in the US this year. Of those, about 180,000 cancer cases and 60,000 deaths will be in California.