SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to heighten awareness and educate Illinois men about one of the greatest risks to their health, on this Father’s Day Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced that the state will invest nearly $2 million in the coming fiscal year on prostate cancer awareness, screenings and research.
“Today is a time we think about out fathers and their importance in our lives,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “It’s also a time for fathers to think about the many people who depend on them, and why it’s important to do everything they can to stay healthy and well.”
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men in Illinois. A man in his lifetime has about a 1 in 6 chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In Illinois, about 8,400 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year and more than 1,400 men die annually from the disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that number will be even higher in 2005, with an estimated 9,410 cases of prostate cancer being diagnosed and an estimated 1,230 men dying of the disease.
The Fiscal Year 2006 budget includes $1.2 million for prostate cancer awareness initiatives, $297,000 for prostate cancer screening, and $500,000 for prostate cancer research.
Last year, Gov. Blagojevich designated September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in Illinois and urged all men to educate themselves about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and preventative health practices that can result in the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer. At that time, the Blagojevich administration provided funding to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to launch a prostate cancer awareness effort, which included publicizing the importance of prostate cancer screening for men older than 40 through public service announcements. Since that time, funding has been awarded to 41 agencies throughout the state to raise awareness of the reality of prostate cancer and increase screening for the disease.
Since Gov. Blagojevich has been in office, the Department also has awarded more than $577,000 in grants to provide prostate cancer and testicular cancer screenings in targeted communities.
“Regular screening can lead to early detection of prostate cancer and treating prostate cancer in the early stages might lead to a better outcome,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “I urge men, particularly those older than 50 years of age and African-American men older than 40, to learn more about the disease and talk with their health care provider about prostate cancer.”
Besides regular screenings and checkups, Dr. Whitaker reminded men to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, reduce stress, keep alcohol consumption to moderate levels and reduce or stop the use of tobacco products.
While scientists do not know what causes prostate cancer, some factors increase risk including family history or race. Men with a father or brother who has had prostate cancer are at greater risk and the disease is more common in African-American men. In fact, African-American men are about one-third more likely than white men to develop the disease, and have the highest incidence rate for prostate cancer in the world. It is less common in Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander and Native American men than in white men. Men aged 65 years of age or older make up more than 70 percent of all diagnosed prostate cancer cases.