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At least one reporter found time for some caution on Mayo's proton beam announcement

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Minnesota and Arizona journalists are jumping all over a Mayo Clinic announcement that they’ll begin offering a form of proton beam radiation therapy in Rochester and Scottsdale several years from now.

But only one news organization that we’ve seen so far – the St. Paul Pioneer Press – injected any caution into their coverage. Reporter Chris Snowbeck, operating under the same time pressures as everyone else, at least included this:

But proton beam therapy has been controversial. Some have questioned whether the evidence in support of the treatment approach is sufficient, especially when considering its cost.

“All too often financial considerations of profit primarily determine whether a technology will be adopted,” wrote doctors this fall in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. “In an era in which the need to control costs has become clear, this situation is undesirable.”

The Star Tribune didn’t include anything like that in their blog or in their online posting of an AP story, which also didn’t have anything like that. Neither did the Mayo hometown papers – the Rochester Post-Bulletin nor the Arizona Republic – not at this moment, at least.

There are lots of questions about proton beam therapy. You can see this search page from my blog to see some of them discussed.

Kudos to Snowbeck and the Pioneer Press for finding some time and space to at least hint that there may be more to the story.

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Comments (4)

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Paul Scott

November 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

Mike Klein’s second day story about it in the PB raises the cost issue, but then says that spending $150k to treat prostate cancer without causing incontinence pays for itself in the long run, “some say”. Does treating incontinence cost $150k in the long run, I truly do not know….anyone?

Susan Fitzgerald

November 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

$150 mill buys a lot of Pampers. Surely that cost is calculable. And as long as the patients are using OPM (other people’s money) to pay for treatment, the quality of life will be worth it to them. But then, in the interests of full disclosure, I don’t have a prostate.
What I’m not seeing in all this is, which prostate cancers are we talking about screening, because the vast majority are so slow-growing you could have them for decades without the risks that come with an operation, i.e. incontinence, impotence and other fun stuff.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prostate-cancer/DS00043/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
The Great Prostate Mistake: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/opinion/10Ablin.html?_r=1