A three-year, $50-million program to help uninsured men throughout the state receive treatment for prostate cancer was announced Wednesday by UCLA.
Regional treatment sites opened Wednesday at the UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, UC Medical School in San Francisco and UC Davis near Sacramento. Treatment sites at UC Irvine and UC San Diego are scheduled to open next year.
The program is intended to serve men who have little or no health insurance, do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Medicare and have low incomes. Up to 3.5 million men may qualify.
Managed by UCLA's Department of Urology, the program is being funded by the state and administered by the state Department of Health Services.
"This is the largest program of its kind nationwide," said Dr. Mark Litwin, director of the program and an associate professor at UCLA. "We hope that it will become a model for other states to follow."
In addition to treatment, the program is designed to promote awareness about the importance of early treatment. Litwin said a team will address cultural, ethnic and illiteracy issues in underserved communities.
More than 21,000 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in California in 1999, said Dr. Jean deKernion, head of UCLA's Department of Urology.