By Ramsey Cox – 07/27/12 02:19 PM ET
The Senate passed a resolution Thursday that acknowledged prostate cancer levels in African American men have reached epidemic proportions.
The Senate resolution, introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), urges Federal agencies to address the health crisis by supporting education, awareness outreach and research specifically focused on how prostate cancer affects African American men.
S.Res. 529 was co-sponsored by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
“Prostate cancer is an epidemic – it kills every 16 minutes,” Kerry said. “This disease killed my dad, but I was lucky to beat it ten years ago, and I introduced this resolution in the Senate to bring attention to this silent killer, how it disproportionately affects African Americans, and the need for additional federal investment in prostate cancer research, education and awareness. I’ve been through the battle against prostate cancer and I understand the strain a diagnosis places on the patient and their loved ones.”
Other sponsors of the measure — which passed by unanimous consent — are also prostate cancer survivors.
“I understand firsthand the importance of prevention, testing and early detection,” said Chambliss, who successfully battled prostate cancer. “While prostate cancer affects all men, the National Institutes of Health has found that it disproportionately affects minorities, and African Americans in particular.”
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that although the prostate cancer death rate has declined for both white men and African American men in recent years, the disparity in deaths from this disease persists. The organization is sponsoring research to determine what factors could be contributing to the higher incidence and death rates among African American men.
Cardin’s office said the research shows that even after accounting for those who lack health insurance, minority racial and ethnic groups face inequities in access and treatment and preventative care. Cardin wrote provisions in the Affordable Care Act that elevated the new Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities at NIH, to help eliminate those health disparities.
“Preventive healthcare saves lives, and it is particularly effective in reducing mortality for prostate cancer,” Cardin said.