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May 12, 1978

Cancer Crusade: The Story of the National Cancer Act of 1971

Author Affiliations

Tumor Center Medical Group, Inc Santa Cruz, Calif

JAMA. 1978;239(19):2040. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280460108039

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In late 1971 President Nixon signed into law an act elevating the role of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to that of a "first among equals" among the prestigious research arms of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NCI was granted a budgetary bypass mechanism wherein its director was to submit his annual budget request directly to the President without seeking approval from the NIH and the parent cabinet department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Since the 1971 Act, funds appropriated to the NCI have almost quadrupled by fiscal 1977 to nearly $1 billion a year.

Richard Rettig has written a fascinating work that details how all this came about, what its present-day effects on both the NCI and overall biomedical research are, and whither this legislation may lead. More important, perhaps, he details the legislative history of the National Cancer Act, indicating the careful preparation and organization of