Congressman questions witnesses in hearing, introduces PRIME Act to combat the disease.

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, (MD-07) today announced the Prostate Research, Imaging, and Men’s Education (PRIME) Act, H.R. 4756, which will provide federal funding for screening, detection and treatment of prostate cancer.

Cummings also questioned witnesses in a hearing regarding new concerns over screening and treatment for prostate cancer. The hearing, held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was requested by Cummings who has long been an advocate for prostate cancer awareness.

Thousands of families in the United States are impacted by prostate cancer each year. It is the second most common cancer in men, striking 1 in every 6, and is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men. In 2009, studies reported that over 190,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 27,000 died from the disease. While no man is immune to this threat, African American men are 60% more likely to be stricken with prostate cancer and have a 100% higher mortality rate than Caucasians.

“Despite the tragic statistics surrounding prostate cancer, there are no reliable, accurate diagnostic tools for the detection and treatment of the disease,” said Cummings. “We must allow patients to make informed decisions. I am concerned that many men will not bother to have the initial discussion with their physician because of new reports that screening will not make a difference in their overall health.

The PRIME Act establishes a new funding initiative within the National Institutes of Health to research and develop prostate imaging technologies in order to substantially improve prostate cancer detection and treatment, making them comparable to mammography.

The bill authorizes $100 million per year for five years in HHS-funded research to develop such technologies.  The legislation also authorizes $20 million per year for five years to develop an improved prostate cancer blood test and $10 million per year for public awareness and education. It also creates a national campaign to increase awareness about prostate cancer screening.

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