Much Needed Hearing in House Oversight Committee to Address Prostate Cancer Screening, Treatment, and Impact of Disease

By: Theresa Morrow, Co-Founder, Women Against Prostate Cancer

Over the past year or so there have been a number of prostate cancer studies released which have prompted a great deal of debate on important issues, including screening, diagnostic testing, diagnosis, treatment, comparative effectiveness of treatments and others.

The controversy around these issues has created a lot of confusion for the public. Men are often unsure if and when they should be screened for prostate cancer, some doctors aren’t sure if they should be performing prostate screenings and in the mean time prostate cancers are being detected at later stages in men across the country impacting not only them, but their entire families.

In order to help bring clarity to all of the discussion that is taking place, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has announced that they will host a hearing titled, Prostate Cancer: New Questions About Screening and Treatment on Thursday, March 4th at 10:00 a.m.

Betty Gallo, co-founder of Women Against Prostate Cancer, has been chosen to testify at the hearing and will be sharing her own battle with her husband’s prostate cancer, former Congressman Dean Gallo. She will represent the millions of wives, partners, sisters, mothers and daughters impacted by this disease each year.

In addition to Ms. Gallo’s testimony, WAPC will also be submitting written testimony. Outlined below are just a few of the major issues on prostate cancer that we will submit to the committee to consider:

  • Prostate cancer is a complex and problematic disease that affects not only the male patient but can also be devastating to his wife or partner and other family members over many years.With Approximately 2 million men currently living with prostate cancer, there are countless partners, spouses and loved ones who are also suffering from the effects of this disease.  In addition, we are concerned about the reported increase in the percentage of younger men (35 – 60 years old) being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer which has lead to increased strain and stress placed on families with young children who in many cases will grow up without a father.
  • More support and education is needed for partners, caregivers and the entire family when a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • The early detection and appropriate treatment of clinically significant and potentially lethal prostate cancer remains a critical priority, especially among men at high risk because of family history, ethnicity, or other factors that define such risk.
  • African-American men have one of the very highest rates of incidence and death from prostate cancer anywhere in the world. The increased rates in this community have a significant impact on the spouses and families of those with the disease.
  • Physicians and their adult male patients should be encouraged to discuss the patients’ personal risks for prostate cancer and the individual need for prostate cancer testing at each patient’s annual physical exam.
  • Men at higher levels of risk for prostate cancer (because of ethnicity, family history, and other factors) should be encouraged to undergo appropriate tests at a relatively early age.
  • Until more accurate tests are available, all health care insurance plans should include coverage for annual tests for prostate cancer (including the prostate-specific antigen or PSA test and the digital rectal examination or DRE) – and follow-up diagnostic testing when appropriate. The PSA is not a perfect test, but it is all we have right now.
  • Additional funding is urgently needed to support research into better ways to identify and discriminate between very low risk (“indolent”) and higher risk (clinically significant and potentially lethal) forms of prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis and into better forms of management for patients with or at risk for potentially lethal disease

Click here to read WAPC’s full testimony.

If you want to make your voice heard, visit WAPC’s Take Action Page.

If you are interested in learning more about the hearing or would like to tune in for a live webcast of the hearing visit: http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=2&extmode=view&extid=126

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