According to the American Cancer Society 28,000 men will die in 2008 from prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer incidence rates are comparable to Breast Cancer rates. Yet, federal funding is significantly higher for Breast Cancer research than for Prostate Cancer.

In 2008, there will be virtually the same number of new cases of Prostate Cancer (186,320) as Breast Cancer (184,450).

* In 2007, Breast Cancer received almost two thirds more funding ($127.5 million) from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program as did Prostate Cancer ($80 million dollars) (59.5% difference).

* In 2007, Breast Cancer received more than twice as much funding ($707 million) as did Prostate Cancer ($305 million) from our nation’s medical research agency, the National Institutes of Health (231% difference).

Prostate cancer is rampant and is a major killer. Despite this and to add to the lack of funding for prostate cancer research we can not motivate congress to pass simple legislation to provide prostate cancer survivors with basic services that are already the standard of care for breast cancer survivors.

The legislation, H.R. 1903, the “Post-Prostate Cancer Treatment Act of 2007”, would 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, at no cost to the government. Similar legislation has existed for breast cancer survivors for many years, but the prostate cancer legislation proposal is dead in the water.

THE THOMAS J. MANTON PROSTATE CANCER EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT ACT OF 2007 was originally introduced into the 109th Congress, but died in committee. This bill has been reintroduced, but also doesn’t seem to be making any progress. It would amend the Public Health Service Act and title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide for the screening and treatment program for Prostate Cancer in the same manner as is provided currently for Breast and Cervical cancer. The bill would provide CDC funding to states for the purpose of screening programs geared to the
uninsured and underinsured. It also provides aid to the state’s Medicaid Programs when cancer is diagnosed.

Because of the lack of funding our new, young researchers are forced to leave the field and head instead into other industries such as finance. The researchers who are really motivated to continue their work are instead choosing to leave the United States to go to Europe and Asia. We are going to end up with an entire “missing generation” of cancer researchers.

Prostate cancer, as with all cancers, is underfunded considering the significant effect it has on every American. It is a sin that we don’t adequately fund the necessary research and the support programs for all our cancer survivors. Our nation should be ashamed that we force cancer survivors to compete with each other for the too little dollars that are made available. I thought that we had declared war on cancer, perhaps I was mistaken.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW
Advocate, Educator and Survivor of
Thyroid, Renal and Recurrent Prostate Cancers

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