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The Buffet Rule for prostate cancer

OW Staff | 5/9/2012, 5 p.m.

BOSTON, Mass.--Billionaire Warren Buffet, who is nearly 82 years old, announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"I discovered the cancer because my PSA level recently jumped beyond its normal elevation and a biopsy seemed warranted," Buffet explains. Diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer, he has chosen radiation treatment five days a week for six weeks.

Buffet ignored the recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in having the PSA test. The USPSTF recommends against men older than 75 having the test, and recently issued a draft recommendation against regular PSA testing for all men unless they experienced some "symptom" of prostate cancer. Buffet did not wait for symptoms, based upon news reports, and had he done so there is a good chance that early detection of his cancerl would have been greatly jeopardized.

While we are witnessing a push for the "Buffet Rule" to normalize the income tax rates between the rich and those not rich, I am in favor of the "Buffet Rule" for the early detection of prostate cancer using the PSA test.

The Buffet Rule for Prostate Cancer: "Men at all income levels should have the right to know and to choose how to manage their prostate health."

Ironically, this is the rule in our country today. However, if the current draft USPSTF recommendation is finalized then that right essentially goes away for some who may not have Buffet's means.

Why? It is almost certain that most insurance carriers will no longer cover the PSA tests unless a man is visibly suffering from prostate cancer, which is much too late for early detection of the disease. I believe this will have a negative impact on all men, but could be devastating for those men at high risk for prostate cancer--Black men, those with a family history of the cancer and Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

When President Obama had his PSA test this past October, I stated my fears that the USPSTF is driving government policies that will result in a two-tiered system for prostate health management. The "Buffet Rule" for prostate cancer should be protected for all men, especially since the death rate from the disease has declined by 40 percent since the rule has been in effect.

Why should our country take a step backwards in fighting the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men?

Here are the stats for Black men:
"Our men are diagnosed with the disease at a rate 60 percent higher than all other men and die at a rate 140 percent higher. This is the largest racial disparity for any type of major cancer in the United States.

PHEN is a nonprofit 501c3 organization founded in 2003 by Thomas A. Farrington a prostate cancer survivor and author of the books "Battling the Killer Within" and "Battling the Killer Within and Winning."

PHEN's mission includes eliminating the African American prostate cancer disparity and working towards a cure for the disease. Black men in the United States have a prostate cancer mortality rate 2.4 times higher than other men.