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Doctors often recommend the treatment they were trained in

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Men, listen up. The kind of doctor you consult for prostate cancer could have a big influence on the treatment you receive.

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A new study suggests that specialists may be biased by their expertise when giving treatment advice to men with prostate cancer.

The study found that men who visit a cancer doctor who specializes in using radiation – are often treated with radiation — instead of surgery or hormone therapy. Experts says that’s a concern because for men with early-stage prostate cancer, all the treatment options work about equally well.

Co-author Thomas Jang says the study is a reminder that doctors need to go to great lengths to offer balanced information on all available options.

Jang: We’re also reaching out to the patients also, because patients who are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer should familiarize themselves with the available options and if they don’t feel that they are getting an unbiased perspective they really should seek a second opinion.

Jang is a urologic oncologist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

He says watchful waiting is another option for cancer that is contained within the prostate. That’s when a doctor simply monitors a patient closely. The study is published in this week’s edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Eric Horwitz leads the Department of Radiation Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Horwitz: There are actually some cancers where, and it tends to be the early stage, where you really can do, either surgery or radiation and you’ll do equally well. I always tell my patients you can’t make a bad decision, the decision is actually based on the side effects.

Horwitz was not involved in the new study but is familiar with the findings.

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