Mar 4 2010
AdMeTech President and CEO Dr. Faina Shtern told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that a major national commitment is needed to create accurate, life-saving diagnostic tools for prostate cancer and end what she called "the prostate cancer crisis."
Dr. Shtern, a leader over the past 20 years in the development of advanced breast cancer imaging and other technologies, said the development of technologies to fight breast cancer showed it could be done. "What we need to succeed is something akin to the national commitment to breast cancer imaging – a Manhattan Project for prostate cancer, if you will – in order to save lives, improve the quality of life in millions of men, and save billions of dollars," Dr. Shtern said.
She estimated that improved imaging would save as much as $5 billion a year in health care costs, but if the country committed to the investment of $500 million – just 10 percent of those costs – the payoff would be accurate imaging for improved early detection and treatment, and reliable in vitro testing for improved mass screening and prevention.
"Image-guided, minimally-invasive treatment can be performed in outpatient clinics, with reduced patient discomfort, complications, and costs. And that is how we will end the prostate cancer crisis," Dr. Shtern said.
Also testifying at today's hearing was actor Louis Gossett Jr., who recently revealed that he has been diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer.
Dr. Shtern's testimony came the day after the American Cancer Society issued new guidelines that warned about the lack of effectiveness of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) biomarker t. Those new guidelines show "there is no confidence in the current diagnostic tools for screening and early detection."
Prostate cancer is the most common major cancer in the United States and the second most lethal cancer in men. A man is diagnosed every 2.5 minutes, and the incidence has increased seven fold in men aged 50 and younger, and tripled in men aged 50 to 59 since 1986. A man dies every 19 minutes from prostate cancer, even though prostate cancer can be cured when detected early.
Existing prostate diagnostics, such as the PSA biomarker and digital rectal exam, cause widespread underdiagnosis, overdiagnosis and overtreatment, with dire human and societal costs, Dr. Shtern said. Current diagnostics miss and/or underestimate the extent or aggressiveness of prostate cancer and lead to treatment failures in as many as half of all men.
False diagnostic alarms result in a staggering extent of unnecessary biopsies and treatment, costing billions of dollars each year. Up to 88 percent of all biopsies – performed on more than 1 million men blindly and randomly each year – do not show prostate cancer.
As many as 54 percent of men with early prostate cancer undergo unnecessary treatment and are left with life-altering complications, such as incontinence and impotence. Improved diagnostic tools, including more specific versions of biomarkers and advanced imaging tools to guide biopsies and treatment, will save lives, enable the least invasive and the most effective patient care, reduce unnecessary procedures, and decrease health care costs.