Advocates: Fiscal cliff threatens childhood cancer research

"Children with cancer would be unable to access clinical trials, medical discoveries that improve the lives of children will be stifled, and promising research on childhood cancer cures will grind to a halt."

The St. Baldrick's Foundation added the automatic cuts known as sequestration would also impede drug approvals at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), harming pediatric patients in the long run.

"With only two drugs approved by the FDA specifically for children with cancer in the last 20 years, new, highly targeted therapies are desperately needed to treat pediatric cancers," the group wrote.

Advocates from across the healthcare spectrum are pleading with Congress to remember their causes as lawmakers negotiate with the White House on how to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Sequestration would cut $2.4 billion from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Cancer Institute, and $318 million from the Food and Drug Administration, according to St. Baldrick's.

Advocacy coalition One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) said this week that those cuts would reduce cancer research funding by more than $450 million.

"Most troubling is the myriad of exciting opportunities in cancer research that could potentially be lost under this uncertain future," the group wrote.

"Today’s progress in research and promising scientific opportunities require a sustained commitment in order for them to bear any fruit that will benefit cancer patients in the future."

OVAC includes the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Alliance.