Shutdown Stalls Research and Treatment for Cancer Victims

Social Security Disability benefits are often a last resort for those who contract life-threatening illnesses, including cancer. When a diagnosis leaves a patient unable to work, they may seek out Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability insurance to cover medical costs and to make ends meet. In addition to government assistance through SSDI, many cancer patients also depend on the federal government when they register for clinical trials. Sadly, the government shutdown has left some cancer patients unable to get the clinical trials they hoped for.


According to local reports, new clinical trials have been suspended because they cannot begin until they are registered on a federal website. The website was shut down and the agency didn’t process applications during the shutdown. Our Massachusetts Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys are dedicated to helping individuals who have suffered from debilitating and life-altering injuries or illnesses. In addition to helping victims and families collect SSDI benefits, we are also committed to the issues that affect those with illness and disabilities in our community.

One Boston man was interviewed after his bone scan was cancelled at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. According to the report, the mid-forties father is now unable to get the needed experimental drug to treat his rare cancer. He had been planning on receiving the clinical trial next month. The shift has devastated patients and doctors who were also hopeful about the treatment possibilities of the drug.

The Boston patient was diagnosed with terminal cancer last winter and was told that tumors had spread throughout his body. Doctors tried chemotherapy drugs; however the tumors continued to grow. His doctor had recommended that he be given cabozentinib, a drug approved for thyroid cancer, but not for other cancers. In an attempt to get him appropriate treatment, the hospital launched a clinical trial on his behalf.

It is likely that this patient is not alone in clinical trial treatment suspension. The issue highlights the grave nature of the government shutdown and the potential implications for similar patients. In addition to the suspension of this clinical trial in Boston, there are likely other clinical trials nationwide that are no longer able to take place because they have not been approved.

Doctors at Dana-Farber are continuing to look for other treatment options since the clinical trial as been suspended. They understand that the government shutdown could also have a widespread negative impact on research and patient care. Though the doctors are unable to reference cases of specific patients, they have met to review files for patients that were slated for research studies in the upcoming months.

The National Institutes of Health director reported that as the shutdown continued the institute had to reject 200 patients, including 30 children who were seeking to enroll in clinical studies after traditional treatment methods were ineffective. For many cancer patients, the clinical studies are a last resort as patients have already exhausted their options for chemotherapy and other treatments. Ultimately, the suspensions could result in the death of these patients who could have had an opportunity for treatment.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Massachusetts, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

More Blog Entries:
Long-Term Disability Benefits Not a Given, Study Says, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Blog, September 30, 2013
Limiting Cancer Diagnoses Could Impact SSDI Eligibility,
July 31, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog

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