Senators Kelly, Tillis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Reporting of Veterans’ Cancer Cases

Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act Will Prevent Tens of Thousands of Veterans’ Cancer Cases from Going Unreported 

Today, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act—bipartisan legislation that would ensure veterans’ cancer cases are fully accounted for in national cancer registries. Under current reporting laws, it’s estimated that each year, tens of thousands of cancer cases among veterans are missed by the central registries that form the foundation of national cancer research.  

“Cancer claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year and is the second leading cause of death in Arizona,” said Senator Kelly. “By collecting and centralizing cancer data, we empower our doctors and scientists to pursue treatments and cures that save lives. It’s essential that veterans’ cancer cases are comprehensively reported so we can fully appreciate and inform cancer prevention and research efforts. I’m proud to partner with Senator Tillis to make this overdue change.”   

“Far too many veterans suffering from cancer are left uncounted by national cancer registries,” said Senator Tillis. “It is crucial that veteran cancer cases are accurately reported so doctors, scientists, and other health care providers can provide the best care and treatments to our veterans, and this legislation will provide the necessary changes to ensure veteran cancer cases are properly identified and reported.” 

“Senators Kelly and Tillis’ legislation will help identify cancer-related disparities among veterans, improve the understanding of the cancer-related needs of veterans and increase opportunities for veterans with cancer to be included in clinical trials, cancer-related research, and analysis,” said Lori Swain, Executive Director of the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA).  

“Senator Kelly’s focus on seeing that veterans with cancer are properly included in U.S. cancer statistics will improve the care and lives of thousands of our nation’s vets. We cannot thank him enough,” said Deborah Boyce, CTR (Certified Tumor Registrar), a former NCRA Board member and current cancer registrar in Tucson.  


State cancer registries collect data on cancer type, severity, treatment, and outcomes, which is then submitted to two national registries: the Center for Disease Control’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and National Institute of Health’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER). Data from these registries are the basis of cancer tracking, prevention, and control research.  

While individual state laws require new cancer data to be reported to state registries, only some VA medical facilities report data to their relevant state registries. It is estimated that tens of thousands of cases are missed each year by central cancer registries because of a lack of VA reporting. Consequently, the national registries miss a significant portion of veteran cancer data.  

The Veterans’ Cancer Act would require Veterans’ Health Administration facilities to share cancer data with state cancer registries, which would guarantee their inclusion in the national registries.  

Click here for full bill text.