TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ellen Karcher, Fred H. Madden and Loretta Weinberg that would create a task force to help promote cancer prevention, early detection and treatment received final legislative approval today by the Senate with a vote of 38-0.
“Early detection is the best way to help prevent cancer deaths,” said Senator Karcher, D-Mercer and Monmouth, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “The task force would work to help promote cancer awareness among high-risk New Jerseyans, as well as help to provide the best possible treatment for cancer patients. This must be about saving lives.”
“According the American Cancer Society, nearly an estimated 18,000 New Jerseyans will succumb to cancer in the year 2005 alone,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, a member of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens panel. “We are losing too many people to this terrible disease. With this legislation, our main goal is to work toward increasing cancer awareness and decreasing the mortality rate, but this can only be done with current and accurate information.”
“Our residents deserve to have a task force devoted solely to cancer research and prevention,” said Senator Weinberg, who sponsored the bill while serving in the Assembly. “By giving the task force the responsibility of identifying the newest cancer research methods and trends, we would be helping to keep New Jersey in the forefront of medical research and technology, and most importantly, saving lives.”
The Senators’ bill, S-2733, would establish the “Task Force on Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment in New Jersey,” within the State Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). The task force would consist of no more than 20 public members and the Commissioner of Health, and would be responsible for evaluating current trends and research concerning incidences of cancer and mortality, with the goals of: reducing behavior that contributes to risk of cancer; reversing the trend of annual increase in the rate of invasive melanoma; closing the gap in cancer mortality between the total population and minorities; increasing the use of screening, especially in the elderly and minorities; and increasing the percentage of cancers diagnosed in their early stages. The task force would be required to report to the Governor and the Legislature at least once every two years on their findings.
This measure was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee on December 1. It now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.