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Bilbray pushes for funding skin cancer research

Medical ResearchSkin CancerCancerBrian P. BilbrayNational Institutes of Health

SAN DIEGO -- Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, whose daughter is battling melanoma, is the co-author of a bill to provide a public source of funding for skin cancer research.

Bilbray co-authored the Melanoma Research Act of 2012 with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Bilbray's 25-year-old daughter, Briana, recently underwent surgery in her battle against melanoma.

Bilbray said people have a one-in-50 chance of developing melanoma in their lifetime, and the rate is higher for those under 30.

"While this disease does not discriminate, in the last 40 years the incidence rate has been on the rise with young women,'' Bilbray said. "We need a committed source of funding to allow the National Institutes of Health to adequately research this growing public health epidemic.''

Citing statistics from the Melanoma Research Foundation, Bilbray said melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States with a diagnosis given every eight minutes, which in turn, leads to a death every hour.

If the bill is passed, funds would come from existing fees charged to users of indoor tanning booths, which raised $54.4 million last year, according to Bilbray. The funding generated by the bill would also pay for research for other forms of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Briana Bilbray's battle with skin cancer revealed a father-daughter split over whether to relax a federal ban on medical marijuana. He opposes any change, but his daughter says medical marijuana is the only thing that relieves nausea from chemotherapy.

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