ASTRO President Anthony Zietman, M.D., spoke before the Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) meeting today on radiation therapy for treatment of localized prostate cancer. MEDCAC provides advice and recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for what is covered by Medicare and Medicaid, based on scientific evidence. Today’s meeting focused on the risks, benefits and outcomes of radiation therapy treatments for localized prostate cancer as compared with watchful waiting.
In his remarks, Dr. Zietman, an expert in radiation therapy treatments for prostate cancer from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University in Boston, provided data on how successful radiation therapy techniques, including external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy, are at treating prostate cancer without significant side effects. He acknowledged that it is possible some men are receiving treatments for prostate cancer that would have done well without treatment through watchful waiting or active surveillance. However, doctors currently have little way to tell if a man’s prostate cancer will progress to be life-threatening or if it will remain somewhat asymptomatic.
With respect to stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), Dr. Zietman said that the treatment, which pinpoints high doses of radiation to the prostate over a few days instead of several weeks, shows promise as a non-invasive way to cure prostate cancer. However, he cautioned that SBRT needed further study in clinical trials to fully capture survival and quality of life measures.
“Prostate cancer is the number one cancer diagnosed in men. I applaud MEDCAC for studying this important issue and appreciate the opportunity to participate in the forum,” Dr. Zietman said.
To read Dr. Zietman’s full remarks, visit www.astro.org/PublicPolicy/CommentLettersTestimonyAndReports.
ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.