The President’s Cancer Panel was established in 1971 when the National Cancer Act was signed by President Richard Nixon.
“The Panel is unaware of any instance in our peacetime history of comparable involvement of the scientific community in a government program of this type,” wrote Benno C. Schmidt, inaugural chair of the President’s Cancer Panel, in the panel’s first report in 1973.
Schmidt helped NCI secure its first appropriation of $100 million from Congress in 1972. Since then, the panel, which is independent from NCI, has continued to advise the federal government on the progress of the National Cancer Program.
Highlights from the panel include:
- In 1974, the PCP expressed concern about the stagnating budgets of the other National Institutes of Health (NIH). While the budget of NCI had substantially increased following the ratification of the National Cancer Act, the same did not happen for the other institutes; in 1974, NCI’s budget was almost five times larger than the budget of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The panel recognized the importance of a strong foundation of research across fields to battle cancer and warned that “neither the cancer program nor biomedical research in general can thrive if these institutes are not healthy.” In the years since, Congress has invested in biomedical research across all of the National Institutes of Health, and the NIH’s overall budget in 2020 was $42 billion dollars.
- In 1996, the PCP recommended that participation in clinical research ought to be a part of the standard of care for cancer. This is now reflected in the guidelines of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
- In 2012, the PCP recommended that states increase access to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination services by allowing pharmacists to administer the vaccine. As of 2018, 39 states and the District of Columbia expressly allow pharmacists to administer the HPV vaccine.
- In 2016, the PCP identified a lack of internet access was preventing patients from accessing health information and recommended that the Federal Communications Commission, internet service providers, and nonprofit organizations support programs to increase internet access. Although more work remains to be done, the FCC estimates that as of 2019 the number of Americans living without access to broadband internet has decreased to 14.5 million, a 45% decrease from 2016.
- In 2020, the PCP identified cancer screening as an essential issue that will need additional support and innovation.
The following primary documents include reports from the President’s Cancer Panel from 1973 up until 2022.