View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 20, 1998

                               June 20, 1998

Today, in his Father's Day radio address, President Clinton announced the release of nearly $60 million at the Department of Defense for prostate cancer research. These largest-ever prostate cancer grants will be awarded by DoD to promising researchers making important contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. These efforts will complement exciting developments in prostate cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This year nearly 200,000 men are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, accounting for 30 percent of cancer in men, and nearly 40,000 men are projected to die from this disease (virtually the same number of women who die from breast cancer). The President also renewed his call on Congress to pass his budget proposals for historic, multi-year increases in cancer research at NIH and coverage of cancer clinical trials for Medicare beneficiaries. These proposals complement the President's strong record in the war against cancer. Highlights of the President's ambitious prostate cancer agenda include:

Releasing the Largest-Ever Grants at the Department of Defense (DoD) for Prostate Cancer Research. The President announced that approximately $25 million for prostate cancer research is being awarded today and another $34 million will be announced in the next month. Over 600 grant applications were submitted for the prostate cancer research program. The DoD conducted a comprehensive two-tiered scientific review process involving prostate cancer experts, patients, and advocates to identify the most promising proposals. This new prostate cancer research program builds on the widely-acclaimed peer-review breast cancer research program at DoD. DoD will be posting the recipients of these new grants on the Internet.

Proposing Unprecedented Multi-year Increases in Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health. The President's budget includes an historic 65 percent increase in cancer research at NIH over the next five years. Since the President took office, research in prostate cancer at the NIH has increased by 100 percent to $122 million in FY1998. This year alone there are 450 research projects at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on prostate cancer, including prevention research studying the environmental, dietary and other influences on this disease; and research to develop more effective interventions and design more effective screening techniques. There is also new genetic research in this area, as scientists recently located the first gene that predisposes men to prostate cancer. Also, prostate cancer was the first cancer studied as part of NCI's recently launched Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, which resulted in the discovery of dozens of new genes that may be associated with the development of prostate cancer. In addition, NIH spends many more dollars on the human genome project, and other biomedical research that will help expand out the base of knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of prostate and other cancer.

Supporting Coverage for Cancer Clinical Trials for Medicare Beneficiaries. The President's budget includes a three-year, $750 million demonstration to cover Medicare beneficiaries' patient care costs associated with certain Federally-sponsored cancer clinical trials. Medicare currently does not cover cancer clinical trials. This proposal is particularly important for prostate cancer patients because: most of men with prostate cancer are Medicare beneficiaries, as fully 80 percent of those diagnosed with this disease are over age 65; the lack of participation of elderly men in trials has undermined clinical research for the treatment, prevention, and screening for this disease; and given promising new findings in research, NCI expects there may be an increase in clinical trials for prostate cancer, creating a need for even more participants.

Proposing $25 Million to Raise Awareness About Prostate Cancer Prevention, Treatment, and Screening for Minorities. African-American men have an incidence rate over 30 percent higher than white men and a mortality rate over 50 percent higher for prostate cancer. The President's race and health initiative includes $25 million over the next five years at the Center for Disease Control to promote awareness about who is at risk for prostate cancer, current screening options, and the best treatment options for those who are diagnosed with this disease. This investment, in addition to clinical trials underway at the NIH, will also help determine why there is such variation in the prevalence and mortality of prostate cancer.

These Proposals Build on the President's Strong Record in the War Against Cancer Including:

Support for a Federally-Enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. The President has called on Congress to pass Federally enforceable consumer health care protections before it adjourns this fall. This patients' bill of rights contains a range of protections that are particularly important to people with cancer, including guaranteed access to needed health care specialists, continuity of care if a health provider is dropped in the middle of treatment, and access to a meaningful internal and external appeals process for consumers to resolve their differences with their health plans and health care providers. The nation's health care system has changed dramatically, with 160 million Americans now in managed care plans. This legislation will ensure that whether Americans have traditional health insurance or managed care, they are assured quality care.

Pushing for Legislation Preventing Health Insurers and Employers from Discriminating on the Basis of Genetic Discrimination. Scientists recently discovered the first gene related to prostate cancer and more progress in understanding the genetic basis of this disease is expected in the near future. However, progress in genetics has the potential to be undermined by fear of genetic discrimination. One study showed that 63 percent of Americans would not take a genetic test if their health insurers or employers could get access to the results. To ensure that new advances in genetics are used to improve health rather than to discriminate against individuals, the President has called for legislation prohibiting the use of genetic screening to discriminate in health insurance and employment.

Enacted New Prostate Cancer Screening Benefit for Medicare Beneficiaries. As part of the historic Medicare reforms in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the President signed into law a series of new preventive benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage of prostate cancer screening. Starting in 2000, Medicare will cover prostate cancer screening.