Medicare advisors discuss radiation therapy for prostate cancer

Reuters has published a summary report on the discussions of a Medicare advisory panel (MedCAC) held yesterday to address the value of different types of radiation therapy in the treatment of early-stage prostate cancer.

The Reuters report can be accessed if you click here. The bottom line appears to be a general consensus that we don’t have enough data to tell whether any one form of radiation is much better than any other in the majority of cases — let alone the relative merits of radiation therapy as compared to other forms of treatment. This is hardly a big surprise. There appears to be little agreement as yet as to how we could accumulate relevant data. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is of the opinion that the most appropriate way to do this is through a sophisticated, national prostate cancer treatment registry system.

There are concerns in some quarters about the future of coverage and reimbursement for treatment with newer forms of radiation therapy — particularly those based on stereotactic body radiation technology (e.g., the CyberKnife system). Several speakers at the hearing specifically asked for Medicare to ensure national coverage of this technology. (At present, some states cover CyberKnife radiation and others don’t.)

As previously reported, the complete draft report developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) which acted as a foundation for yesterday’s discussions is also available on line.

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