Congressman Edolphus (Ed) Towns (D), 10th District, New York, has proposed a very important piece of legislation for men with prostate cancer. The legislation, H.R. 1903, the “Post-Prostate Cancer Treatment Act of 2007”, will allow some 6,000 men each year to pay for penile implants under their private insurance plans as they seek a reconstructive remedy after a prostatectomy.

Currently, it is estimated that 80,000 men will have a radical prostatectomy each year. A number of these men will sustain severe nerve damage and will become impotent. Medicare and about two-thirds of private insurers currently cover this reconstructive procedure. However, an increasing number of private insurers are declining coverage because they have characterized this procedure as a remedy for sexual dysfunction rather than a necessary procedure for reconstruction after the removal of cancerous tissue.

Around 50% of men, post prostatectomy, suffers from significant complications including incontinence, erectile dysfunction and impotence. This places a major burden on their families and their general quality of life.

However, about 6,000 men annually can be helped. The surgery involves the implantation of a prosthetic devise such as a urinary sphincter and or a penile implant. The urinary sphincter functions to keep the urethra closed so that bladder control is regained and the penile implant replicates normal erectile functioning. These two devices allow a man to regain their dignity and improve their quality of life.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 30% of newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients are under the age of 65 and do not qualify for Medicare. Unless their private insurance companies cover this procedure, many of us will be denied access to this necessary restorative procedure.

Congress, when it passed the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, acknowledged that breast reconstructive surgery was an important part of the complete treatment package for woman who had a mastectomy. In the same fashion, congress needs to acknowledge that the complete treatment package for men who have a prostatectomy should also include reconstructive surgery.

I urge that everyone contact his or her congressperson and demand that their support for H.R. 1903 as well as contact have them contact Ed Town’s senior health advisor Rick Blake ( and arrange to co-sponsor this legislation. You can contact your member of congress by going to: or by clicking on “Contact Your Congressional Representative” which appears under Blog Roll on this page.

Although I do not live in his district (I live one district from him), I personally want to thank Congressman Towns for his constant and innovative initiatives supporting the regular person. It is a shame that more members of congress do not follow his consistent and outstanding leadership.

A full copy of the proposed legislation can be seen at:

Joel T. Nowak MA, MSW