FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 1997
U. S. SEN. RICHARD C. SHELBY
SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON AGING
Hearing on Prostate Cancer
WASHINGTON, D. C. ----
"You have cancer." Those were the words I heard in March of 1994. Dr. David McLeod, who is with us today, delivered the news to me. It was a day I will never forget. I went to see Dr. McLeod, for a routine physical examination. He performed the customary battery of tests and sent me on my way. I had no idea that there was anything wrong with me, much less that I might have cancer. When Dr. McLeod phoned me to deliver the news, I was in shock. Thankfully, because the cancer was detected early, I am here to tell others about my experience. It is my hope that by telling my story and by requesting this hearing from Chairman Grassley, we can foster more open dialogue about this disease. Very simply, we need to begin to increase awareness about the deadliness of prostate cancer so more men seek early detection.
The routine PSA test that was administered to me was key to detecting my cancer at an early stage. Without it, it is likely that the cancer would have continued to grow undetected, thus decreasing not only my chances of full recovery, but my chances of survival as well.
Because I believe in the importance of early detection, I was very pleased to see that the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 contained a provision that will allow for Medicare coverage of PSA exams. The rationale for covering PSAs is that by focusing on early detection and preventive measures, we will not only save lives, but we can actually help reduce long-term health care costs as well.
We have made a great deal of progress in our battle against prostate cancer, but we still have a long way to go. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men. It affects one out of every 11 men and has a 25 percent mortality rate. it is nearly as prevalent--and as deadly--for men, as breast cancer is for women, yet research for prostate cancer is only about one-forth of that of breast cancer.
I want to be clear that I am not questioning the level of research spending for breast cancer. However, I do believe that research spending on prostate cancer is insufficient in light of the prevalence and deadliness of the disease. Now that we have made progress in the area of screening, we must put prostate cancer research at the top of our list of priorities. Like periodic screening, a strong commitment to prostate cancer research will not only save lives, but, will actually lower health care costs over the long haul.
I want to thank the witnesses for taking time out of their busy schedules to be here today. I look forward to hearing their comments.
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