Community Support Letter

Welcome to our 2012 community sign-on letter! Please enter your contact information below to sign on to our letter indicating your support


Harold E. Varmus, MD
National Cancer Institute
31 Center Drive
Building 31 Room 11A48 MSC 2590
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2590


Dear Dr. Varmus,


We write to you today as the unified members of the mesothelioma community. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is the nonprofit collaboration of patients and families, physicians, advocates, and researchers dedicated to eradicating the life-ending and vicious effects of mesothelioma. We commend you for your dedication to improving the lives of Americans stricken with mesothelioma through your direction of the National Cancer Institute. 


The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012signed into law by President Obama on January 2, 2013 (Public Law No. 112-239) gives you, as the Director of the National Cancer Institute, the ability to identify additional recalcitrant cancers for which to establish scientific frameworks that will guide research efforts. We feel strongly that mesothelioma should be included.


In this legislation, a recalcitrant cancer is defined as a cancer “for which the five-year relative survival rate is below 50 percent.” Mesothelioma easily meets this definition, as it is one of the most deadly cancers, with a less than ten percent five-year survival rate. Not only does it have a single digit survival rate, but the average survival times for people with mesothelioma have been between four and 18 months.


The legislation also seeks to target cancers that have “not seen substantial progress in the diagnosis or treatment.” Unfortunately, mesothelioma fits this stipulation as well. With only one FDA-approved treatment for mesothelioma that extends life by only three months, many patients have to resort to off label use of chemotherapies, drastic surgery or with luck participation in clinical trials. There is no test currently available for early detection of mesothelioma either.


We strongly urge you to recognize mesothelioma as a recalcitrant cancer and establish a scientific framework to guide mesothelioma research efforts under the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss further.


We appreciate your commitment to serving Americans suffering with cancer, and again thank you for all you do for mesothelioma patients at the National Cancer Institute.


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