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Jury Still Out on Radiation for Early Prostate Cancer


5 Star


Jury Still Out on Radiation for Early Prostate Cancer

Our Review Summary

This 750 word story provided readers with a good synopsis of the study results and did so in plain and straightforward terms providing definitions for the average reader. We liked the fact that the story linked the study results to a reasonable set of recommendations for men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer.


Why This Matters

News stories in recent years have so often breathlesslly promoted new radiation therapy approaches such as proton beam therapy and intensity modulated radiation therapy.  It is important to bring the public reviews of the evidence that show “currently available evidence is insufficient to draw definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of radiation treatments for localized prostate cancer compared with no treatment or no initial treatment.”


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The only discussion of cost was one phrase deep in the story – ” proton beam therapy in particular is expensive” – but that was it.

Proton beam therapy and a related approach – intensity modulated radiation therapy – are being used more commonly and both are very expensive.  Within a story that discusses the lack of evidence, cost certainly deserved more attention.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The lack of evidence of benefit was clear in the story.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story did state: “Retrospective studies, however, found that radiation treatments were associated with increased urinary or bowel problems, compared with no treatment or no initial treatment.”  We wish it had provided more detail, but we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story made it clear that it was based on a systematic review of the literature.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering of prostate cancer.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story turned to Dr. Durado Brooks of the American Cancer Society for an independent perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The entire story was about a systematic review of studies comparing different doses of radiation and different types of radiation therapy – and whether any has been shown to be a better option than “watchful waiting.”

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The story didn’t explicitly address the availability of radiation facilities, but that wasn’t necessary.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story made clear that this is one in a series of federally funded studies on prostate cancer treatment options.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


The story did not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 9 Satisfactory


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