Lawmakers Try to Raise Prostate Cancer Awareness

If it seems members of Congress are diagnosed with prostate cancer (search) more than most other American males, anti-cancer activists say there's a logical reason: They're tested more.

Several congressional prostate cancer survivors, led by Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss (search), are uniting Wednesday to encourage men to get screened often for the disease, which is deadly but treatable if detected early enough.

Chambliss, a Republican, learned he had prostate cancer last summer as part of an annual physical given to members of Congress. He has since had surgery, and the disease is in remission.

"We're on the road to winning our battle," Chambliss said. "I want to make sure I communicate my story to men all across Georgia and all across the country. It just proves if you have cancer and find out early about it, you can be cured."

Chambliss has plenty of colleagues to help him spread the message. Fellow prostate cancer survivors in the Senate include both of Alabama's Republican senators, Richard Shelby (search) and Jeff Sessions (search), Idaho Republican Mike Crapo (search) and South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson (search). Congressmen who were diagnosed with it include Jim Marshall (search), D-Ga., Duke Cunningham (search), R-Calif., and Frank LoBiondo (search), R-N.J.

"I think for years that people died of cancer, and it probably came from prostate cancer but people didn't know what it was," Shelby said. "Now you can save people's lives."

Shelby and most of the others will participate in the awareness event Wednesday outside the Capitol. Also expected to attend are two survivors from the baseball world, former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda (search) and former New York Mets third baseman Robin Ventura (search).

Jamie Bearse, spokesman for the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, said about 48 percent of men over 50 haven't been screened. That's troubling considering one out of six men get the disease in their lifetimes, and only a third survive five years if it isn't detected early.

Sessions said screening is an easy procedure that takes only about 10 minutes.

"They draw blood, may check your cholesterol and PSA at the same time," Sessions said. "If that comes back positive, they can do a biopsy that will confirm the PSA."