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PCF Encouraged by Introduction of New Prostate Cancer Legislation

Bipartisan Measure Would Coordinate Research and Help Accelerate Cures

September 16, 2010 -- As hundreds of prostate cancer researchers, advocates and supporters Advance on Washington this week and push for more progress in fighting the disease, the Prostate Cancer Foundation applauds the prostate cancer legislation introduced on Tuesday by Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

“Just yesterday the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and 13 other organizations issued a five-point call to action to U.S. policymakers to accelerate investment and discovery for ending suffering and death as a result of prostate cancer,” said Jonathan W. Simons, M.D., president and CEO of PCF. “The introduction of this new legislation is an important and timely step forward.”

Tester’s bipartisan Prostate Cancer Act would streamline and expand the prostate cancer research underway at the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs. The measure would specifically strengthen research on improvements or alternatives to current screening tests and help develop methods to distinguish between different forms of prostate cancer. The legislation would also establish an interagency task force, led by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to eliminate duplication of work between agencies in the field of prostate cancer research and treatment.

 

With $3 billion spent on the overtreatment of prostate cancer each year, there is a renewed urgency and expanded funding commitments are needed to find answers that will enable physicians to cure more and over-treat less.

“Prostate cancer research for patients is at a defining moment,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, president and CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). “More progress has been achieved in 2010 so far than in the past decade. These advances mean we must redouble efforts to understand the genetic pathways of prostate cancer and fast-forward tailored treatments. With the right investment, we have a great opportunity to continue this progress for American men and their families."

One out of six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. In 2010, it is projected that there will be more than 218,000 new prostate cancer cases and over 32,000 deaths from the disease. Following a 40 percent decline in the death rate in recent years, aging baby boomers are reversing the trend line and the number of projected deaths and new cases of prostate cancer has risen for the first time in nearly a decade.

At a breakfast for survivors and supporters Tuesday morning, Dan Zenka, PCF’s vice president of communications said that the time has come to stop expending energy on bashing PSA testing and direct them toward more constructive efforts that are focused on developing better diagnostics and treatments. Zenka was recently diagnosed with advanced metastatic disease.

“The PSA is helping to save my life and will continue to help my doctors track the effectiveness of my treatments,” said Zenka. “I ask any critic of PSA testing—one of the best tools we currently have in the diagnostic process—to look any patient or family member in our eyes and say the PSA test should not be used.”

Commenting on Senators Tester’s legislation, Zenka said: “This proposal represents a very positive step in helping move all of us beyond the PSA debate and driving progress in treating patients more effectively.”

This week is bringing hundreds of people –including prostate cancer researchers, advocates, celebrities, patients and their families–to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness for the disease and urge health leaders to action. The “Advance on Washington” features events and meetings hosted by PCF, ZERO – The Project to End Prostate Cancer, the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program and the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN).

“We’re achieving exciting new advances in understanding the makeup of each type of prostate cancer,” continued Simons. “Now is the time for our health leaders to intensify efforts and support for research so that we can translate this knowledge into increased survival and reduce unnecessary side effects for men who don’t need aggressive treatment.”

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