FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 30, 2007
Schumer Reveals: Prostate Cancer A Growing Epidemic For Thousands Of African-American Male New Yorkers - 126% More Likely To Die From Cancer Than City's Caucasian Men
The Combination of Costly Examinations and a Lack of Access to Screenings Leaves NYC African-American Men 82% More Likely to Develop Prostate Cancer and 126% More Likely to Die from it than City's Caucasian Population
Schumer to Stand with Prostate Cancer Survivor to Push Bill to Thwart this Eminently Treatable Cancer by Funding Free Screenings and Treatment for All Men
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed that prostate cancer, a highly treatable disease, is a growing and lethal epidemic for thousands of New York City African-American men, leaving them 126% more likely to die from the cancer than the city's Caucasian male population. Concerned that a lack of affordable screenings and treatment for African-American males is largely to blame for their unnecessarily high prostate cancer fatality rate, Senator Schumer, visiting the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in Harlem, announced that he will introduce the Thomas J. Manton Prostate Cancer Treatment bill to fund affordable treatment and free screenings for uninsured men. Schumer also released a new analysis detailing the alarming prevalence of prostate cancer throughout the city's African-American neighborhoods.
"It is wholly unacceptable that our city's uninsured African-American men lack access to free prostate cancer screening and treatment, and are left to shoulder a disproportionate number of fatalities from it," said Senator Schumer. "It's high time that every man, regardless of their race, receives the quality health care he needs to catch cancer early on and have every chance to beat it."
"No one should die of prostate cancer just because they are poor and uninsured," said Dr. Harold Freeman, President and Medical Director of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention.
According to American Cancer Society projections, 234,460 men were expected to develop prostate cancer in 2006, and each year approximately 30,000 American men die of prostate cancer. The national annual incidence rate for prostate cancer from 2000 to 2003 was 170.3 - meaning that for every 100,000 American males, slightly more than 170 were diagnosed with the cancer.
The incidence rate for African American males, however, is an astonishing 258.3 - meaning that for every 100,000 African-American males, slightly more than 258 were diagnosed with the cancer. Between 1999 and 2003, the national annual death rate from prostate cancer per 100,000 individuals was 65.1 for blacks and 26.7 for whites. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for the nation's African American male population and will cause an estimated 4,240 fatalities in 2007.
In New York City between 1999 and 2003, the New York State Department of Health estimates that an average of 5,000 new diagnoses and 790 deaths are attributable to prostate cancer each year. One in four African-American men in New York City will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime, a rate that is 60% higher than the general population. Schumer revealed that the city's African-American population is 82% more likely to develop the cancer and 126% more likely to die from it than the city's Caucasian population.
Even though annual testing for prostate cancer is recommended for all African American men over the age of forty, in New York City thousands of men fail to receive the annual examinations. A lack of access coupled with the high cost of screening and treatment prevent many African-American men from receiving crucial services, leaving them vulnerable to a cancer that, if untreated, can quickly evolve into lethal, advanced stages.
Schumer today revealed neighborhood-specific incidence and mortality data provided by the New York State Department of Health. The neighborhoods with the highest incidence and mortality tend to have the city's largest African-American populations:
Brooklyn has the highest number of incidence and mortality case in the city with 1,550 new cases of prostate cancer and 239 deaths.
Modeled after the successful National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), the Thomas Manton bill will:
• Provide grants to states to fund prostate cancer screenings. The average cost of a prostate cancer screening is currently $26. • Provide an enhanced Medicaid matching rate to any state that elects to add Medicaid coverage for prostate cancer treatment for men who have been screened through the Thomas Manton program. • Authorize funding for additional grant programs that would allow low and moderate income men to be screened for other health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Senator Schumer noted that his bill will create a brand new program for prostate cancer screening and will not dilute the funding available for the already successful breast and cervical programs. The Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990 authorized the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a national program ensuring that under- or uninsured women between the ages of 40 and 64 receive regular screening tests for breast and cervical cancer in addition to any necessary follow-up treatment. Since its inception in 1991, the NBCCEDP has provided over 4.6 million screening exams which have lead to over 18,000 cancer diagnoses. In New York, in addition to the actual screening, follow-up, and case management, the NBCCEDP includes professional education for health professionals, public education and outreach promoting breast and cervical cancer screening, and media campaigns.
Over the past several years, Senator Schumer has actively advocated for increased funding for prostate cancer research within the Department of Defense's (DOD) Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program. Prostate cancer research within this program currently receives $85 million a year.
The screening process for prostate cancer consists of two complementary procedures, both of which are very simple and can be easily administered in the comfort of a physician's office. The first involves a routine blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein whose presence (in elevated levels) is indicative of a malfunctioning prostate. In the second test, known as the digital rectal exam (DRE), the prostate is physically probed for abnormalities suggestive of cancer. Experts recommend men over 50 should have both a PSA and a DRE yearly, though those at high risk should begin being tested as early as 45.
Senator Schumer was joined by Dr. Harold Freeman, President and Medical Director of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in Harlem, Darryl Mitteldorf, Chairperson of the New York State Prostate Cancer Coalition and Executive Director of the leading national nonprofit prostate cancer support group organization, Malecare, and Winston Dyer, a longtime advocate for prostate cancer screening and a representative for Men's Health Network.