Legislation that would force all states to
collect data on benign brain tumors got a hearing before a House subcommittee in
mid-November. That was the critical first step needed before Rep. Barbara Lee
(D-Calif), the measure’s sponsor, could start pushing her bill through
Congress. Rep. Lee’s bill (H.R. 239) would make it mandatory for all states to
collect data on the incidence of primary brain tumors (whether malignant or
benign) in their state registries. Those registries get funding from, and pass
their data along to, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via
that agency’s National Program of Cancer Registries.
The CDC spent about $36
million in fiscal 2001. At present, 21 state registries already collect
malignant brain tumor data, but the other 29 do not. Rep. Lee estimates that the
CDC would have to spend an additional $1 million to prod the 29 states to
collect the desired data.
Brain tumors are the second leading cause of cancer death in
children as well as the third leading cause of cancer death in young adults aged
15 to 34 years, although approximately half of all brain tumors are considered
benign. Nationwide, the incidence of brain tumors has increased by 25% since
1975, for unknown reasons. Survival rates in women diagnosed with so-called
benign meningiomas are lower than those for women with breast cancer.