As far as I can tell, Marilynn Marchione of the AP is the only mainstream news media journalist to report that “A study of Medicare records found that men treated with proton beams later had one-third more bowel problems, such as bleeding and blockages, than similar men given conventional radiation.”
She reports that results “were discussed Tuesday in a telephone news conference sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and two other cancer groups.” And we know that other journalists have been reporting other news presumably based on that same tele-conference. So why haven’t more reported on the proton beam question?
Marchione easily explains the significance of the findings:
Proton therapy is rapidly growing in use — Medicare covers it — even though no rigorous studies have tested whether it is as safe or effective as usual care.
It costs around $48,000 — at least twice as much as other prostate radiation treatments. Hospitals are rushing to build proton centers, and nine are operating now — sites include Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Fla., and Loma Linda, Calif., east of Los Angeles. Promoters often claim it is less likely to cause complications.
“There’s no clear evidence that proton therapy is better” for prostate cancer, and the new results suggest it may cause more complications, said Dr. Ronald Chen, a radiation specialist at theUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
And from New Jersey comes news of the latest clash between medical evidence and politics:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation opposing an October 2011 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendation that healthy men should no longer receive PSA tests as part of routine cancer screening.
Is this a first? A state passing a law against draft recommendations intended for primary care doctors?