Laws In The US Don’t Control The High Cost Of Prostate Cancer Treatments

November 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

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If you have prostate cancer and have to undergo treatment in the United States, you may have to consider the cost of the treatments. Some of the treatments that are administered or applied to individuals with the disease are often very pricey.

Unfortunately for many men with average income, accessing these treatments could be next thing to impossible.

In a recent post on the REUTERS website, Andrew M.Seaman highlighted that laws in many states of the US do not curb costly treatments for prostate cancer. Two notable treatments that are used for treating cancer of the prostate — robotic surgery and special radiation treatments are said to be costly.

The post was based on recent studies that revealed that the government is not doing enough to reduce the high costs of specialized treatments for prostate cancer. These treatments are said to have side effects. Many doctors and health care providers still apply costly treatments whether there is need for government’s control or not. According to the online article published on  Friday November 23, 2012: Researchers found doctors used robots and special radiation to treat prostate cancer regardless of whether their area had laws requiring government approval before money is spent on healthcare facilities and new equipment.

Studies from different researchers over the years have confirmed the above facts and  it is still an ongoing phenomenon. On the online post, one of the  studies was  carried out by researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and headed by Dr. Bruce Jacobs. In the study, the researchers looked at whether states with strict laws – those that require approval for even low-cost equipment – used robotic surgery to remove fewer prostates than states with less strict or no laws.

Jacobs and his colleagues write in The Journal of Urology that the price of such robots, and the questions surrounding whether or not robotic surgery to remove a prostate is better than the old-fashioned way should make it an “ideal target” for review under the laws.

The issue of cost is not applicable to Robotic surgery alone, the intensity modulated radiation therapy(IMRT) is another type of treatment that has been found to be effective but has high cost for the average American.  Another research on the cost of radiation and costs was highlighed in the online article: A second study by another group of researchers looked at whether the laws limited the use of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or slowed the growth of healthcare costs related to prostate cancer.

IMRT allows doctors to focus radiation beams onto the cancer without harming healthy tissue.

However, the researchers write that IMRT is costly and – to their knowledge – has not been compared to other prostate cancer treatments in a randomized controlled trial, which is considered the “gold standard” of medical research.

In a group of Medicare patients, Dr. Ganesh Palapattu, the chief of urologic oncology at the University of Michigan and the study’s senior researcher, found that areas with the laws actually saw greater growth in IMRT use.

By and large, the impact of robotic treatments in helping to cure patients with prostate cancer cannot be denied, however  if these treatments are so costly and well out of the reach of common American, how can the hundreds of thousands of men affected by this disease be treated. This site advocates that government should be more proactive in establishing laws that would curb the high cost prostate cancer surgery.

Finally, for more information on the above studies, you can access The Journal of Urology online November 19, 2012.

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