Fairfax, Va., September 3, 2009 – The American Society for Radiation Oncology, ASTRO, applauds the work of Rep. Charles Dent for leading efforts on behalf of the nation’s cancer patients.

Rep. Dent joined with a bipartisan group of 62 House colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius protesting Medicare’s proposal to cut radiation oncology payments by 19 percent, with some services being reduced by up to 44 percent. An ASTRO survey conducted in July said cuts of this scale would have a particularly devastating effect on freestanding and community-based cancer centers, causing many to close, stop accepting Medicare patients, lay off support staff and reduce services to cancer patients.

“Rep. Dent recognizes what most Americans do,” Laura I. Thevenot, ASTRO Chief Executive Officer said. “Maintaining access to high quality cancer care services is critical to cancer patients who are fighting day in and day out against their cancer. Radiation oncologists and their patients greatly appreciate the commitment and leadership of Rep. Dent and his colleagues to protect cancer care.”

New technology and improved techniques have allowed radiation oncologists to dramatically improve how they target radiation to more effectively eliminate cancer cells while protecting healthy tissue. This has allowed radiation oncologists to improve cure rates while decreasing painful side effects, allowing patients to not only survive, but thrive after their cancer treatments.

To find ASTRO’s survey on the devastating impact expected with these cuts, the Congressional letter signed by Rep. Dent and ASTRO’s comment letter to CMS, visit www.astro.org/medicarecuts.