The problems created by Senator McCain continue to be ever present. Our friend, Senator Durbin has asked that we provide his office with additional background about the military nature of the research performed by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), including the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP).
In addition there is a very misguided support group leader from a southern California city who has responded to Malecare in a very negative manner to my request for your support in encouraging the continued funding of the PCRP CDMRP. This support group leader, despite his great work and efforts in helping men diagnosed with prostate cancer clearly has no idea of the importance of this program.
In response to Senator Durbon’s request and to hopefully inform the misguided support group leader as well as contribute to the general knowledge base I will share my notes about the current contributions of this vital program.
In reference to the request for specific stories in support of the military relevance I do want to make sure that it is known for the prostate cancer CDMRP that the program is directly responsible for the basic science as well as the initial clinical trials for three of the six treatments that are used to treat men with advanced, castrate resistant metastatic prostate cancer.
FYI – The drugs that I am referring to are:
Radium 223 (Xofigo)
It is well known that men who have been exposed to agent orange (both “boots on the ground as well as men who experienced later secondary exposure) are at a much increased risk for developing this type of aggressive, castrate resistant prostate cancer.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences concluded in its 1996 report Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 1996 and in future updates that there is limited/suggestive evidence of a positive association between prostate cancer and exposure to herbicides used in Vietnam. A 2013 study conducted at the Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Science University found that Veterans exposed to Agent Orange are not only at higher risk for prostate cancer, but they are more likely to have aggressive forms of the disease. Read the abstract for the publication, Agent Orange as a risk factor for high-grade prostate cancer. – See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/prostate_cancer.asp#sthash.n7ZZQoOK.dpuf (http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/prostate_cancer.asp) >
Another exposure that is effecting both veterans and current members of the military is Depleted Uranium (DU). DU is used in armor piercing bullets and artillery shells. A large number of our militry personnel were exposed to DU in Iraq and in Afghanistan. These exposures include military personnel in the field as well as personnel handling and processing the munitions prior to its use.
In fact DU exposures still continues today. Any person handling munitions in a warehouse, loading it onto a plane, a Humvee, or onto a boat have continued exposures to this carcinogenic material.
“When combusted via explosions or high impact, DU creates a dense, toxic and carcinogenic aerosol composed of uranium oxide. This aerosol is carried by the wind and is often inhaled. It settles on clothing, on water, and in the sand and brush used for cover—contaminating everything in its path. Uranium oxide can be detected in a person’s system for decades after exposure.
Along with the airborne danger, concentrated DU munitions emit radioactive alpha, beta and gamma rays, along with neutrons and X-rays. DU munitions stored on pallets and in containers for transport or stockpiled for future use emit toxic levels of radiation, too. An excerpt from an official report by an Amy Radiation Safety Officer (docket 18576; Sept. 21, 2004; Army’s Crane Army Ammunition Activity, IN), reveals the danger.
“Pallet contact radiation dose rates are generally twice, and in one case, over four times the regulatory limit for Limited Quantity materials. However, pallet and modal conveyance dose rates at one meter are generally a multiple of three to six times justifiable Limited Quantity classification, and for one sized round, six to eleven times. In the case of this latter round, inappropriate radiation exposures could occur to transport workers by being in the vicinity of the material for just 100 hours per year.”
Simply touching or being in close proximity to DU weapons puts a person at risk.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified DU as a Class 1 carcinogen. While the Department of Defense denies and disclaims any connection between DU and cancer (much the way it did with Agent Orange and the health illnesses it triggered in Vietnam vets), the past few years have seen a growing amount of peer-reviewed research confirming that DU is a genotoxic agent that damages DNA and can trigger several types of cancer—including prostate cancer.
Veteran watchdog organizations are reporting an increase in the incidence of prostate cancer and other male-specific cancers for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans versus the general population. United States military stats confirm that active duty servicemen have double the rate of prostate cancer as men in the civilian population. And young servicemen—men who are well below the median age for prostate cancer—are not immune. A 27-year-old soldier just back from Afghanistan diagnosed with prostate cancer may not be an anomaly.
One recent study, “Cancer Incidence in the U.S. Military Population: Comparison with Rates from the SEER Program” published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that the rates of prostate cancer are significantly higher in active duty military personnel than among the civilian population. The report also noted that active duty military personnel are younger than men in the general population.” – (http://www.usmdpcc.com/news-soldiers-deployed-iraq-afghanistan-higher-prostate-cancer-risk.php)
The following is additional information about the progress made by the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium which was founded and still continues to receive prostate cancer CDMRP funding-
It has brought together vast scientific and clinical expertise and unique institutional resources from 13 major cancer centers across the nation to work together to design and execute faster, more precise, and more cost-effective clinical testing of new treatments.
In less than four years, the Consortium has conducted more than 60 early-phase studies investigating over 30 different drugs. Over 1,700 patients have been recruited to participate in these studies, and these efforts have recently moved five additional potential therapies into the final phases of clinical testing with the hope to see them become FDA approved (not including the six treatments that have already been approved).
The PCRP CDMRP funds a major bio-repository of prostate cancer tissue. I am attempting to obtain specific statistics about the tissue currently held, its distribution and the % of military tissue contributions that have been made by individuals (if this data is kept).
In addition we fund retraining of clinical doctors to start research programs as well as young investigators and undergraduate researchers from minority institutions. Recently, we have begun to fund psych-oncology and survivorship research all of which will have a direct affect on those in the military as well as veterans.
The prostate CDMRP has, dollar for dollar, made more progress than any other research program in the world in combating aggressive, deadly. incurable prostate cancer (three of six treatments). The biggest bang for the dollar to help for veterans active duty personnel and for the general population of men has come from the PCRP CDMRP.
The prostate CDMRP is a leader in providing grants that have proven themselves to make a difference in our veterans and in our active duty military members. Grants include basic science awards, idea development awards as well as a robust clinical trial consortium that have directly been responsible for the three treatments mentioned. These treatments extend life (as proven in clinical trials) and directly improve the quality of life.
I hope that Senator Durbin, the very misguided support group leader and you now have a better understanding of the true value and our need to see the continuing funding of the CDMRP.