AUA Urges Congress to Pass Bill for Prostate Screening

April 1, 1997

WASHINGTON--The American Urological Association (AUA) has urged Congress to pass the Medicare Preventive Benefit Improvement Act of 1997, which would provide coverage for annual prostate cancer screening for Medicare-eligible men over the age of 50. The screening procedures covered would include prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and digital rectal exams.

WASHINGTON--The American Urological Association (AUA) has urged Congressto pass the Medicare Preventive Benefit Improvement Act of 1997, whichwould provide coverage for annual prostate cancer screening for Medicare-eligiblemen over the age of 50. The screening procedures covered would includeprostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and digital rectal exams.

In testimony before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Healthof the Ways and Means Committee, AUA Secretary William R. Turner, Jr, MD,a urologist at the Medical University of South Carolina, said that thePSA test has greatly enhanced the ability of urologists to diagnose prostatecancer at an early stage when chances of successfully treating the malignancyare high.

"There is now evidence that early detection is beginning to havean impact," Dr. Turner commented. "Prior to the use of PSA, only30% to 40% of prostate cancer cases were diagnosed at an early stage. Amongmen getting annual PSA tests, early stage disease is diagnosed 70% to 85%of the time."

In addressing the issue of costs that would occur if the bill were enacted,Dr. Turner testified: "The American Urolog-ical Association urgesyou to weigh carefully the costs of enactment against the savings thatwill stem from avoidance of costly palliative therapies and the loss ofproductive life."