WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 In response to the risingepidemic of prostate cancer in America and the lack of accurate diagnostictools that cost lives and the nation's health care system billions annually,U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Albert Wynn (D-MD) announced today theywill co-sponsor legislation that would fund the development of technologicaladvances in the fight against a disease that kills one man every 18 minutes.
Prostate cancer is diagnosed in at least one in six American men -- ahigher incidence rate than women diagnosed with breast cancer -- yet advanceddiagnostic imaging technologies comparable to mammograms remain unavailable.
"Current diagnostic tools for prostate cancer are grossly inadequate,"said Angelo De Marzo, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, oncologyand urology at Johns Hopkins University, who joined Reps. Cummings and Wynn ata press conference on Capitol Hill. "They often produce inconclusive ormisleading results, leading to widespread unnecessary treatment that can causecomplications and ratchet up our nation's ever-growing health care costs."
The AdMeTech Foundation, an organization dedicated to facilitating thedevelopment of advanced technologies that lead to greater accuracy indetecting and diagnosing prostate cancer, hosted the press conferenceannouncing Rep. Cummings and Wynn's legislation that would authorize $650million for appropriation to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services for prostate cancer imaging researchand education. A Senate version of the bill, known as the Prostate ResearchImaging and Men's Education Act, or PRIME Act (S. 1734), was introduced bySen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in June.
"The funding of imaging research that will lead to more accurate detectionand diagnoses of prostate cancer could eventually save tens of thousands oflives a year," said Rep. Cummings. "Current treatment for prostate cancercosts our health care system $8 billion a year, and an additional $2 billionis spent on unnecessary biopsies. Sadly, it's also spent on care for thosewhose diagnosis was missed and who are in the end stages of this deadlydisease. We know we are within reach of developing state-of-the-art imagingtechnology, and this legislation, along with Senator Boxer's PRIME Act, canput light at the end of this dark tunnel."
"This legislation is a prime example of how taxpayer dollars, put to theright use, can positively impact millions of lives and eliminate billions ofdollars from an already strained health care system. Prostate cancer is anepidemic in this country and we have a moral imperative to effectively addressthis health care crisis impacting men and in particular, the African-Americanmale," said Rep. Wynn.
Current studies indicate African-American males have a 60 percent higherincidence rate for prostate cancer and more than a 100 percent highermortality rate.
Prostate cancer care is in a crisis
Diagnostic tools for prostate cancer are severely lacking. In fact, whenprostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test results are abnormal, approximately88 percent of men -- or 1 million a year -- undergo unnecessary biopsies, yetend up not having prostate cancer. Current testing through multiple biopsiesmisses at least 20 percent of prostate cancers, and the tests oftenunderestimate the cancer's aggressiveness.
These consequences take their toll on America's health care system. Falsediagnostic alarms cost more than $2 billion annually in health care expensesfrom unnecessary and traumatic biopsies.
"Advanced imaging and in vitro diagnostic technologies will profoundlyimpact quality of care, quality of life and health care costs, but federalsupport is needed to bring these emerging technologies to patients," saidFaina Shtern, M.D., president and CEO of the nonprofit AdMeTech Foundation anddirector of