Good morning Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, ladies and gentlemen. I would first like to welcome everyone to this morning's hearing on prostate cancer. I was very pleased when I learned that Senator Shelby had taken the lead in arranging a hearing on this topic. It is most appropriate that we hold this hearing during National Prostate Cancer Awareness Week. I am aware that for many, especially men, prostate cancer is not a subject we like to discuss. This is tragic when you consider that every 90 seconds another American is told he has prostate cancer. In 1997, an estimated 334,500 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed. Nearly 42,000 will have their lives claimed by this cancer in 1997. When we know so much, it is unfortunate that we do so little.
I would like to welcome all of today's panelists and thank them for their willingness to come forth and discuss openly what we know about this topic. Specifically, I would like to personally welcome my former colleague Senator Bob Dole and the current Governor of my home state of Nevada, Governor Bob Miller. Governor I thank you for making the trip and am grateful that you accepted the committee's invitation to come forward and share your story.
We know that 1.5 million Americans have been afflicted with prostate cancer in the last decade. One in every eight men is at a lifetime risk for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer accounts
for 43 percent of all male cancers and is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. We know that race is a significant risk factor with African-American men having a 70 - 80 percent greater risk of prostate cancer than white men. We also know that age is a profound risk factor with over 80 percent of all prostate cancers diagnosed in men over the age of 65. It is therefore appropriate that the Senate Special Committee on Aging hold a hearing on this cancer.
While we know so much, we still, I am afraid, are doing far too little. I am pleased that we have included coverage for prostate cancer screening in the recently passed Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Funding for research on prostate cancer has also been increased. In 1992 NIH received $40.1 million for prostate cancer research. In 1998 it is estimated to be $100 million. Last year Congress also gave the Department of Defense a total of $45 million for prostate cancer research. The private sector as well is playing a major role in research. While there is still a great distance to travel, there is heightened awareness mounting in supporting research on prostate cancer. It is my hope that our hearing will only add in that effort. In my view what is still critically needed is at the individual level, where all men will ensure, at the appropriate time, appropriate interval, and in consultation with their physicians, that they are screened for this cancer. There is so much that can be done if detected in the early stages. Although prostate cancer is a "man's disease," it effects the lives of countless women as it strikes their husbands, fathers, brothers or even sons. Women can play a
pivotal role in providing support and encouragement to their loved ones by talking openly about this cancer and the critical need to be screened.
In my home state of Nevada, it is estimated that in 1997 there will be 1,800 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed. This same estimate holds that 220 will die from this cancer during the same period. This is no small number and to the many victims and families who will suffer with them, our hearing could not come any sooner.
I thank all the witnesses for coming forward today and again want to extend a special welcome to Governor Bob Miller who has done so much for raising awareness about this cancer both in Nevada and on the national level. Mr. Chairman, I commend you for your leadership in seeing to it that we discuss this topic, no matter how uncomfortable we may be in the process. By talking about it we make it acceptable for men across America to be screened and if necessary get the treatment they need.