(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – The Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), a patient-advocacy organization, is urging Congress to “hold cancer research harmless from the fiscal cliff” during upcoming budget negotiations.

With Congress and the White House looking for ways to curtail the growth of federal spending, it is important to view cancer research budgets as “not a luxury but a necessity,” said LCA President and CEO Laurie Fenton-Ambrose.

“The incidence rate of cancer is higher now than it was 40 years ago and it is the leading cause of death in adults under the age of 75,” Fenton-Ambrose said. “With the number of patients and the cost of treatment escalating, we cannot afford to short-change the agencies of government involved in cancer research and the review of new and more targeted cancer drugs now.”

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More funding needs to be devoted to cancers associated with high mortality rates, she argued – including lung and pancreatic cancers, which represent an estimated 33% of cancer deaths in the United States but research for which is less well-funded than other types of cancer.

She also called for a comprehensive action plan to guide public funding decisions for cancer research, and a system of benchmarks with which research outcomes can be assessed.

“This is the taxpayers’ money we are investing in cancer research and treatment development and there has to be more accountability,” she said.