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Cancer Society Advocates Push U.S. Lawmakers for Help Fighting the Disease

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Advocates with the American Cancer Society are on Capitol Hill this week pushing U.S. lawmakers to increase research funding.

Oklahoma lead ambassador Carrie Mayes said she’s a staunch supporter of research after surviving cancer of her retina.

"The treatment at the time, generally, was just to remove the eye. Because of the research that had been done, we found a fabulous hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that had cutting-edge treatment, and they were able to treat my melanoma and save my eye," Mayes said.

Mayes and other advocates are asking lawmakers to approve a Senate budget bill giving the National Institutes of Health an additional $2 billion. That increase would follow a fiscal year 2018 funding increase of $3 billion.

Among the policy actions advocates are calling for is passing the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act. The bill would help train more palliative and hospice care providers, foster further research, and educate patients about those options.

"Those patients have better outcomes. They spend less time in the hospital. They actually live longer, according to the research," Mayes said.

Another goal is closing a loophole in Medicare policies that results in patients being billed if their doctor finds a removes polyps during a colonoscopy, which is covered.

"That is the life-saving part of the whole test, but when it becomes a procedure of removing the polyps, then the copay has to be paid. And the seniors, that’s a detriment for them to even go in for the screening," Mayes said.

It’s estimated nearly 8,500 Oklahomans will die from cancer this year, and more than 19,000 will get a new cancer diagnosis.