I am in Orlando Florida attending the Department of Defense Impact Conference for the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) This DOD program is among the largest funders of prostate cancer research in the world and what is important is that the funding is designed to move research ideas that are specifically designed to have a maximum impact on the prostate cancer community.

Today’s meeting was an exciting experience as we heard discussed many of the pieces of good news coming down the pike, things such as abiriterone and MDV3100. The DOD program has funded, along with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a consortium of 13 different cancer centers that has managed to accelerate the rate of phase III trials, including the trials for these two potential jack pot treatments coming down the pike.

I am not really planning to write this post about the conference, that will come in the next few days. What I do want to share with you is the news I received at the end of what had been a glorious day.

Senator John McCain, in comments from the floor of the Senate, while discussing the Continuing Resolution, said the following:

“The aspects of the Defense Appropriations bill that need to be taken away, eliminated, are $300 million for medical research. I am sure the medical research is important, but it has nothing to do with national defense. Within that $300 million is $15 million for peer-reviewed Alzheimer’s research, $150 million for peer-reviewed breast cancer research, $12.8 million for peer-reviewed lung cancer research, $20 million for peer
reviewed ovarian cancer research, $80 million for peer-reviewed prostate cancer research, and … — all of which are worthy causes, but none have anything to do with defending this country. If they want them to be funded–and they deserve to be in many respects — they should come out of the Health and Human Services Appropriations, not out of Defense.”

Now remember, the senator is a man who has been treated multiple times for malignant melanoma. I am incapable of understanding how a man with his life experience could not understand the need for robust funding for cancer.

I know that some people believe the senator really isn’t talking about removing the cancer funding, just moving it into a different agency. Don’t believe this, Senator McCain intends to use this funding to support the Iraqi police which the House of Representatives just removed from their funding bill. He wants to end the funding for cancer research!

Even if the good senator just wants to move agencies, this would be very detrimental to us. The DOD program, unlike the other funding agencies supports the research that will have an immediate impact now, not within 15 years. Additionally, if the funding gets moved to another agency like the NIH, they might say they no longer need the use additional funds since prostate cancer already has the use of the funds moved from the DOD.

We need to respond now to this threat. Senator McCain is a real threat and he must be stopped now to protect the gains we have made in cancer research.

Dr Samuel Ward Casscells, III, a former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and a member of the Board of Directors of the Prostate Cancer Foundation spoke at the conference and told us that tell that the CDMRP was a key military mission that supported our soldiers and (b) why the Prostate Cancer Research Program needed our full support.

If you think it is important to maintain the level of progress against prostate cancer that we have achieve, you need to call your Congressmen and Congresswomen now. They need to get a very clear message from every prostate cancer patient, advocate, and researcher:Do not, under any circumstances, eliminate funding for the DoD Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program or its key prostate cancer initiatives funded through the Prostate Cancer Research Program.

It’s a simple enough message, so pick up your phone and make three calls: one to your representative in the House of Representatives and another two to each of your representatives in the Senate. And if you want make a call to the office of Senator McCain, his number is 202-224-2235. Ask for his health policy staff member.