The American Congressis poised to ruin Father’s Day for millions of men and their families by drastically cutting funding for prostate cancer research.

Today, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would provide $64 million in FY2012 for the Prostate Cancer Research Program as part of the Department of Defense’sCongressionally Directed Medical Research Program. This is a 20%reduction from the $80 million provided yearly since 2006 to study the disease, develop new drugs and save lives.

“Prostate cancer affects one in six men and disproportionally affects our nation’s veterans,” said Skip Lockwood, CEO of ZERO ? The Project to End Prostate Cancer. “This decision by Congress will punish veterans who have already sacrificed a great deal for their country.”

Veterans vs. civilians
Veterans who have been exposed to chemical agents such as Agent Orange in Vietnam, other unknown chemicals that have emerged since the Desert Storm operations in Iraq, and depleted uranium are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as their civilian counterparts.

Incidence of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, accounting for 30% of all cancers in men. This year, approximately 217,730 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and an estimated 32,050 will die from the disease.

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The disease is second only to lung cancer as a leading cause of cancer deaths in men. During the period of 2000 to 2006, the average annual incidence of prostate cancer among African American men was 60% higher than among Caucasian men. Since 1980, the average annual death rate among African American men has been more than twice that of Caucasian men.

Ongoing research
Department of Defense funding has lead to new prostate cancer drugs reaching U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2010 and 2011. denosumab (Xgeva?, Amgen) which reduces bone breaks and other skeletal complications, and abiraterone acetate (Zytiga,Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.) a second-line treatment for castration-resistant prostate cancer, were both developed with funding from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. Without this research funding, prostate cancer drugs that are currently available and saving lives would still remain in clinical trials.

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