Council Would Accelerate Development of Prostate Cancer Diagnostics

CURE, Winter 2015, Volume 14, Issue 1

Bill that would create a National Prostate Cancer Council—charged with creating a plan for the screening, diagnosis and monitoring of prostate cancer—was introduced Jan. 21 by Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Bill that would create a National Prostate Cancer Council—charged with creating a plan for the screening, diagnosis and monitoring of prostate cancer—was introduced Jan. 21 by Sen. Barbara Boxer.

The bill (S. 222) would appropriate $2 million from 2016 through 2020 to run the council, which would include eight members of health-related federal agencies and 14 members from various prostate cancer communities, including advocacy, research and patients.

The goal of the council would be to draft a national plan to “expedite advancement of diagnostic tools,” including those for the early detection of prostate cancer, to monitor response to treatment, and to determine when disease is unlikely to progress and can simply be observed. The council would also oversee and coordinate national efforts to diagnose and treat prostate cancer.

There has been much recent interest in diagnostic tools for prostate cancer because the standard method of screening for the disease involves measuring blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)—a test whose value has been debated. While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against any such screening in 2012, the American Urological Association and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, as well as many top experts in the urology arena, have maintained that PSA testing can be informative for certain men, and should be used until a better strategy is devised.

“A group of highly qualified individuals, such as that proposed by S. 222, would be able to provide valuable guidance and coordination on issues related to early prostate cancer detection and management of progression,” says Oliver Sartor, a medical oncologist at Tulane University School of Medicine and a member of CURE’s advisory board. “This is the critical issue, given that prostate cancer is the most common non-skin malignancy in U.S. men. Despite much progress, prostate cancer remains overtreated in many men and undertreated in others.”