SEPTEMBER 23, 1997

MR. CHAIRMAN, as this is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, it is particularly appropriate that you have called this morning's hearing to explore the issues surrounding prostate cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in American men.

As many as one in ten American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year, 334,500 new cases will be diagnosed, and 41,800 lives will be claimed by this increasingly common and potentially deadly disease.

In many ways we are victims of our own success. The life-span of Americans is increasing, and because this disease most often strikes men who are in their sixties and seventies, more and more men are now afflicted. These numbers can only expect to increase as the baby boom generation ages.

The single largest factor in the sharp increase in prostate cancer diagnoses is the increasingly widespread use of the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test, which in many cases can detect the disease far earlier than other screening methods. The good news is, that by making early detection and treatment possible, this test could eventually reduce the number of prostate cancer deaths. The bad news is that increased use of the PSA test for routine screening could lead to an increase in premature or even unnecessary treatment.

And, for many men, the fear of the available treatments for prostate cancer, and the impact that those treatments could have on their quality of life, exceeds their fear of the disease itself.

At this morning's hearing we will hear from a number of witnesses - among them former Senate Majority Leader and Presidential candidate Senator Robert Dole, who have fought and won the battle with prostate cancer.

Others have not been so fortunate. In recent years, prostate cancer has claimed the lives of thousands of American men. Some, like media mogul Steve Ross, actors Telly Savalas and Don Ameche, and rocker Frank Zappa were rich and famous, demonstrating that wealth and fame provide no protection.

The thousands of other men confronted with prostate cancer are not so famous, but they are our fathers, grandfathers, husbands and brothers, proving that none of our families is immune to this disease which is second only to lung cancer as the largest single killer of American men.

Mr. Chairman, I am particularly looking forward to the testimony of our first panel this morning and to hearing the straight facts about prostate cancer and its treatment from those who have personally fought the battle against this deadly disease and won. I am also looking forward to hearing about new advances in treatment and research and to discussing the public policy implications surrounding coverage for prostate cancer detection and treatment.

Again, thank you Mr. Chairman, for scheduling this important hearing, and I look forward to the upcoming testimony.


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