Mass. Legislators Approve Funding for Prostate Health Awareness
On June 30, The Massachusetts’ House of Representatives and Senate created a new education and awareness program dedicated to prostate cancer. The $500,000 campaign, contained in the conference committee report of the FY15 budget, is aimed at saving lives, improving quality of life, and reducing health care costs. This program will be managed by the Department of Public Health and uniquely focused on men with African American roots, family history and other individuals at high risk of lethal prostate cancer.
"I commend the legislative members of the conference committee for creating a Massachusetts model of national and international leadership in prostate cancer awareness and education," Dr. Faina Shtern, AdMeTech’s President, said. "This program will make it possible to bring fundamental breakthroughs in patient care and research, which we have seen over the last year, to every man and healthcare provider in our state."
Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in Massachusetts and causes a higher mortality rate than even breast cancer, particularly in the African American community. Even though early detection saves lives, 630 Massachusetts men will die in 2014. But the prostate cancer crisis is not limited to preventable deaths. For every lost life, this year alone, at least three men will have unnecessary treatment and over 30 men will have unnecessary biopsies, which cause complications and inflate health care costs.
"I strongly support efforts to improve screening and early detection," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Prostate cancer is one of the leading killers of men, and we can do better. Boston is home to some of the best hospitals and doctors in the world, and if we work together, we can save thousands of lives and ensure that men are getting the highest quality, most effective care available."
Committed to ending the prostate cancer crisis, AdMeTech Foundation established the Manogram Project to develop and implement accurate diagnostic tools for improved screening, early detection and treatment, modeled after life-saving mammograms.
This budget allocation follows a historic precedent set by state legislators, jointly with Boston Mayor Walsh and the Boston City Council, when they recognized prostate cancer as a public health priority and a patient care disparity at the annually-held Prostate Cancer Awareness Day at the State House.
The conference committee report will now go to the Governor’s office for final approval. Earlier this year, both the House and Senate included $500,000 for prostate cancer awareness programs in their respective budgets.
In a full-court press effort to highlight the critical importance of early detection of prostate cancer, on June 19 AdMeTech Foundation hosted the state’s 6th Annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Day, bringing together Mayor Walsh, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, Marathon legend and prostate cancer survivor Bill Rodgers and leading medical experts. The State House event focused on making Massachusetts the national leader in awareness and education of prostate cancer.
"Prostate cancer is a public health crisis, largely because of preventable loss of countless lives combined with unnecessary procedures, which reduce the quality of life in millions of men and add billions of dollars to health care costs," said Dr. Faina Shtern, President of AdMeTech Foundation and a daughter of a prostate cancer survivor. "I thank all the key stakeholders who attended the 6th Annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Day. Together, we will ensure that patient care will be based on the most recent advances in scientific knowledge in order to improve early detection and treatment of the aggressive disease and to reduce false alarms."
AdMeTech created the Manogram Project, which is dedicated to creating accurate diagnostics tools for prostate cancer, akin to life-saving mammograms.
"Proper use of PSA detection and treatment saves lives," said Dr. Philip Kantoff, a member of the event’s Organizing Committee and Professor of Medicine and Director of the Dana Farber’s Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, Harvard Medical School. "The value of PSA detection has been diluted by the problem of over-treatment. The value of PSA needs to be recognized along with the need to not over-treat men who have indolent disease."
Dr. Adam Kibel, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Urology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, added that, "Before the advent of PSA screening, patients routinely presented with advanced incurable disease. PSA screening has dramatically improved our ability to detect the cancer earlier, when it is still treatable."
In addition to House Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray, and Mayor Walsh, the speaking program also included State Senator Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) and Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington), prostate cancer survivors; and Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), a spouse of a survivor.
"Prostate cancer continues to be one of the most common and lethal cancers affecting men, and it’s critical that we continue to come together as a firm reminder that this is a serious public health crisis," said Murray. "Early detection and treatment remain our best defenses against this silent killer, and through our continued support of AdMeTech, their partner organizations as well as new research and medical breakthroughs, we are helping to save thousands of lives across the state."
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.