In 1971, President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, designed to implement a series of reforms that would provide more funding and research opportunities in an effort to find methods of diagnosis and treatment, as well as a cure to the menacing disease. The legislation outlines a multi-step process to enact these changes, starting with an analysis of the rise in cancer rates and the threat that cancer poses to the health of Americans. The goal of the act was to provide more support for the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health to “advance the national effort against cancer”. In addition, it is clear that in order to succeed, the government must capitalize on the recent advances in medicine and research in order to build a program to fight cancer.
The act assigns the director of the NCI the task of compiling all research into a database where findings could be catalogued and stored. The director is also in charge of providing funding for large-scale production and distribution of biomedical materials, as well as preparing an annual budget estimation for the National Cancer Program. Government funding for research facilities is limited to $5 million annually per facility, but can be used for construction, staffing, training and demonstrations. The goal within the facilities was to establish programs for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment as necessary and in accordance with the state governments and other health agencies.
In addition, the President’s Cancer Panel was established, consisting of 3 people who are all highly trained in medicine with a strong background in the research and treatment of cancer. Members of the panel are appointed for terms of three years, and all report to the President directly to discuss any updates and reports on the National Cancer Program.
The percentage of growth in funding for research from 1967 to 1971 was 16.20%, about a $2.3 million dollar increase across 5 years. With the signing of the National Cancer Act, federal funding was approved at $400 million for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1972. Beyond that, allotted funds rose $100 million dollars every year through 1974.