Treatments for all cancers, including prostate cancer, have improved over the last ten years. As treatments improve, we have created a growing population of cancer survivors. Neither our hospitals, doctors nor our society has acknowledged this exploding population. We have failed to provide any support system for these survivors, their caregivers or their families.

Left unaddressed is the many side effects that the cancer has created in the survivor. The treatments we use, more often then not, leave behind their own array of problems. Physical pain is often ignored as well as the growing psychological needs of the survivor.

H.R. 1078, the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act (CCCIA), is a new bill currently being discussed in Congress. If it manages to pass Congress, it would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act. For the first time the bill would provide Medicare insurance coverage for comprehensive cancer care planning. Comprehensive care is coordinated care from all providers that responds to the many currently unmet needs of survivors, including pain and symptom management, psychological support as well as curative therapy. The over all goals are to improve the care furnished to individuals diagnosed with terminal cancer by establishing a Medicare Hospice Care Demonstration Program. In addition, it would provide grants to support the development of palliative care and symptom management programs as well as provider education, and related research.

Contact your congress member and urge them to support H.R. 1078.

Joel T. Nowak MA, MSW