In case having prostate cancer wasn’t bad enough

In case having prostate cancer wasn’t bad enough

If you’re unlucky enough to get prostate cancer, you’d at least expect your doctor to help arrange the best possible treatment plan for you. However, some urologists may be a little more interested in boosting reimbursement for themselves than in making life easier and better for their patients. They’re using I.M.R.T., a radiation therapy that can result in payments of up to $47,000, which is far higher than for other methods. According to the New York Times:

Helping drive the trend is a Texas company, Urorad Healthcare, which sells complete packages of I.M.R.T. technology and services, and hopes to persuade even more urologists to buy them.
“Join the Urorad team and let us show your group how Urorad clients double their practice’s revenue,” the company says in a marketing pitch to doctors on its Web site.
Urologists who have purchased the new multiple beam systems say they are embracing a superior way to treat prostate cancer. But because there is little research directly comparing I.M.R.T. with the other treatments, there is little consensus among urologists about which approach is best…

Compared with seed implants, for example, I.M.R.T. involves a large time commitment, requiring patients to visit a radiation center 45 times over the course of nine weeks.

One thing that particularly concerns me is those patients who will be pushed into IMRT when they might be better off with no treatment at all.

December 1, 2006

One thought on “In case having prostate cancer wasn’t bad enough”

  1. Once again the New York Times gets the story completely wrong. The total bill for prostate surgery is over $80,000 when the cost of dealing with the horrendous side effects of surgery is taken into account.

    Prostate surgery is one of the most difficult procedures there is to perform. The prostate is buried deep within the body so the surgeon has to perform the surgery by feel. It does not help that the whole area is flooded with blood. It is not surprising that incontinence and impotence are common side effects of the surgery. The best surgeons have a 90% cure rate. The worst ones have a 68% cure rate.

    Radiation delivery machines introduced in the past 4 years have a cure rate in the high 90s if the cancer is caught in time. There are minor side effects during treatment, and lasting side effects are rare.

    So radiation has a higher cure rate, at a lower cost, with far fewer side effects. So if a urologist cares about his patients, he would be switching to radiation treatments. And if a person wants the truth, don’t read the New York Times.

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