Concerns have arisen that prostate cancer sufferers are not being properly informed about their treatment options and are being pushed into having costly surgery.
Each year in Australia, 20,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. With treatment, nine out of 10 men survive five years from the time of diagnosis. The current treatment options include surgery or radiotherapy. If the operation is performed in a private hospital, it usually costs at least $20,000.
Patients and radiologists are concerned that urologists, the specialists who perform the surgery, are failing to give patients information about radiotherapy. This results in more men electing to have surgery when it might not be necessary – and having to foot the bill.
For lower-income families and those living on pensions, being able to afford surgery is often out of the question, as it can lead to debt and financial hardship. A significant issue is that information about free radiotherapy is only provided to patients after they have stated they cannot afford surgery.
Not advising patients of vital information about non-surgical treatment is occurring across the nation. Many men are “not fully informed about their options for treatment”, says radiation oncologist Sandra Turner from the Westmead Hospital in Sydney.
Associate Professor Turner, who has been treating prostate cancer for 20 years says, “Men can be very influenced by the way that surgeons present information”, and “are not in a position to choose their treatment until they have actually heard their treatment options from the experts involved”, she says.
Radiotherapy, a non-surgical treatment, is believed to be just as effective as surgery. Although radiotherapy takes longer than surgery, it is available for free at public hospitals.
Associate Professor Turner says the problem is systemic, occurring across the board in the Australian medical profession, and it has taken too long for the truth to be revealed.
Read more at ABC.