WASHINGTON (AP) – More than 3,300 cancer patients, survivors, friends and relatives fanned out across Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby Congress for more money for cancer research and detection.

Aiming to visit the offices of every member of Congress, the group also appealed to lawmakers to reauthorize a program that provides breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment for uninsured women.

President Bush’s proposed budget for the fiscal 2007 year beginning Oct. 1 would cut the National Cancer Institute’s budget by $40 million.

Wendy Selig, the American Cancer Society’s vice president for legislative affairs, said the institute needs a 5 percent increase – $240 million – in its $4.8 billion budget this year just to keep pace with inflation.

Funding flat

National Institutes of Health estimates for disease research show cancer funding staying fairly flat in recent years, with annual increases of $115 million and $92 million between 2003 and 2005, followed by a $49 million drop this year.

Breast cancer survivor Carolyn Scheible, 51, of Corpus Christi, Texas, said before heading to a meeting with Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas, that NCI funding helped come up with the cancer drug she took, tamoxifen.

The two-day event sponsored by the cancer society and it sister advocacy group, the Cancer Action Network, attracted an estimated 10,000 people and included large exhibits on the National Mall highlighting the work of state and local cancer activists.

Ellen Schafer, an oncology nurse from Bismarck, N.D., who lost her mother to cancer five days earlier, said the number of people attending the event illustrates that cancer can touch almost any family.

“I would be so happy to be put out of work,” she said.

, drying tears from her face.

Selig said the breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment program for the uninsured is now reaching only about one in every five women eligible for it.

Breast cancer survivor Denise Caraway, 53, of Warren, Ohio, said she can’t imagine how uninsured women cope with cancer.

She said she had insurance and still paid about $6,000 in medical bills and lost about $5,000 in wages due to treatment.

“I just don’t see why other women would have to go through that,” she said.

On the Net:

American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org

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