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AUA Urges Congress To Pass Prostate Act, Establish Inter-Agency Task Force To Align Current Federal Efforts In Prostate Cancer Research

September 10, 2017

The American Urological Association (AUA) announced its support of H.R. 6389, the PROSTATE Act, introduced on September 29 by the Honorable Edolphus Towns (D-NY-10), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The AUA worked closely with lawmakers to develop this critical legislation, and recently honored Chairman Towns at a special event held during the 2010 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.'s 2010 Annual Legislative Conference. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced the Senate version of the Act on September 14.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men, and more than 210,000 are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2010. There are significant racial disparities: African American men are not only more likely to develop the disease, but are also more than twice as likely to die from it.

While significant national resources are focused on prostate cancer, federal agencies should actively explore ways to align their current efforts to more efficiently and effectively deploy existing federal funds. The PROSTATE Act will help foster greater national integration and coordination on the many efforts to promote more effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment, public education and healthcare delivery for this disease.

Specifics of the bill include:

- The formation of an Inter-agency Prostate Cancer Coordination and Education Task Force composed of agencies from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which will identify and catalog prostate cancer activities across these agencies; develop a strategy to improve the research portfolio; eliminate duplication between agencies; identify best practices; expand collaboration; increase patient and medical community participation; and develop a coordinated message related to screening and treatment for prostate cancer.

- Require the VA, DoD and HHS to coordinate and intensify prostate cancer research, including improvements or alternatives to the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and additional tests to distinguish indolent from aggressive disease; advance the understanding of the etiology of the disease; establish clinical registries for prostate cancer; and assess appropriate imaging modalities.

- Establish a grant program to build upon existing knowledge gained from comparative effectiveness research, and recognize and address the racial and ethnic disparities in the incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer.

- Establish four-year telehealth pilot projects in a variety of geographic areas, including rural, that contain high proportions of medically underserved populations. Such projects will promote efficient use of specialist care through better coordination of primary care and physician extender teams in underserved areas and more effectively employ tumor boards to better counsel patients.

- Require the development of a national education campaign intended to encourage men to seek prostate cancer screening when appropriate. The national campaign shall ensure materials are readily available in communities with racial disparities in the incidence and mortality of prostate cancer.

"The AUA is very pleased to offer its support of both the House and Senate versions of the PROSTATE Act," said Datta Wagle, MD, president of the AUA. "This legislation is an important first step toward using government resources effectively to combat prostate cancer."

American Urological Association