National Cancer Act


ANNCR: The National Cancer Act – Today on Congressional Moment

During the first 30 years of the 20th century, America became a safer and healthier place. Living conditions improved, causing many diseases to almost disappear.

One exception to this pattern was cancer, and in 1937 Congress established the National Cancer Institute. By 1970, cancer had become the nation's second leading cause of death.

Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough sought to make its conquest a national priority. He led a group of medical experts, cancer advocates, and business leaders who explored the issue. They became commonly known as the "Yarborough Commission." The Yarborough Report became the blueprint for the National Cancer Act, which was signed into law in 1971 by President Richard Nixon.

The National Cancer Act provided additional funding for the National Cancer Institute, establishing 15 new cancer research centers, local cancer control programs, and an international cancer data research bank.

Its passage received a boost when popular columnist Ann Landers encouraged a flood of mail from her readers, urging representatives to vote for the bill.

The goal for a simple cure for cancer remains elusive. But scientific knowledge about cancer continues to grow. New techniques for detection, diagnosis, and treatment are constantly emerging, as a result of efforts of Congress and the American people.

STANDARD CLOSING: This is Lee Hamilton. Congressional decisions impact all our lives. To find out more about how Congress works, or to get involved in your government, visit the Center On Congress Web site at