In a presentation today at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference Health Braintrust meeting, Faina Shtern, M.D., president and CEO of AdMeTech Foundation, unveiled overwhelming support from Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members and patient advocacy organizations for the Prostate Research, Imaging, and Men’s Education Act of 2010 (PRIME Act/ HR 4756)
This support builds on the rapidly growing number of Congressional co-sponsors for the legislation, including 25 CBC members who are particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact of prostate cancer on African American men. Prostate cancer is the most common and the second-most lethal cancer in American men. African American men have a 60% higher incidence and 250% higher mortality rate.
Reintroduced earlier this year by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), former CBC chair and long-time champion of the fight against prostate cancer, the PRIME Act would provide $650 million over five years for research and education to advance prostate cancer diagnostics. Rep. Cummings reintroduced the bill following a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that identified the need for reliable blood or urinary tests for mass screening and medical imaging technologies for improved early detection and treatment. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
“Despite the tragic statistics surrounding prostate cancer, there are no reliable, accurate diagnostic tools for the detection and treatment of the disease,” said Rep. Cummings. “We must allow patients to make informed decisions. I am concerned that many men will not bother to have the initial discussion with their physician because of new reports that current screening will not make a difference in their overall health.”
The PRIME Act has seen growing momentum from all sectors of the prostate cancer community, formally announced today by Dr. Shtern. In her presentation, Dr. Shtern emphasized prostate cancer as “public health disaster” among African American men and discussed racial disparities in incidence and outcomes. She described emerging scientific data indicating that image-guided early detection may save lives, and that image-guided treatment can control prostate cancer, as well as radical surgery, while drastically reducing complications and costs.
“The PRIME Act will serve as a ‘Manhattan Project’ for ending the prostate cancer as a socio-economic crisis in our country and a public health disaster among African American men. This legislation will enable development of lifesaving tools for mass screening and advancement of imaging technologies to guide early detection and minimally-invasive treatment,” said Dr. Shtern. “The PRIME Act is particularly timely now, as President Obama named September National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and urged research for improved prevention, early detection and treatment.”
The prostate cancer advocacy community also unfolded a united push for the legislation today. Dr. Shtern announced and released formal letters of support for the PRIME Act on behalf of the Men’s Health Network, Mets Mavericks, National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions, Prostate Health Education Network, Prostate Cancer Research Institute (PCRI), Prostate Cancer International, Patient Advocates for Advanced Cancer Treatments, Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network and Zero: The Project to End Prostate Cancer. In addition, three major professional medical organizations – the Academy of Radiology Research, Medical Imaging Technology Association and the Radiologic Society of North America – also announced their support for the PRIME Act.
“Research to advance diagnostic and imaging technologies will make it possible to end a staggering extent of unnecessary and failed procedures,” said Mark Scholz, M.D., head of PCRI, medical director of Prostate Oncology Specialists in Los Angeles, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Southern California and author of the recently published book, Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers. In his book, Dr. Scholz argues that forty out of the fifty thousand radical surgeries performed annually are unjustified, and that these men would have benefited more from non-invasive monitoring of their prostate cancer.