VTP revisited

It has been brought to our attention that the health news journalism monitoring site HealthNewsReview was seriously underimpressed by a recent Reuters report on the use of vascular photodynamic therapy (VTP) as a treatment for low-risk prostate cancer.

You can find the HealthNewsReview commentary here. They gave Reuters a grade of just 2/10 for satisfaction with the quality of the Reuters report (see here). They were also severely critical of the original media release on which the Reuters report report was based (see here).

Some additional information unearthed by HealthNewsReview in conducting their review and analysis is as follows:

  • > 30 percent of patients receiving VTP in the Phase III trial required a repeat treatment within the 2-year follow-up period from initial treatment — an important fact that went unmentioned in the abstract of the paper by Azzouzi et al. and in the media release from University College London Hospital.
  • 80 percent of the patients treated with VTP experienced adverse effects of some type.
  • 30 percent of the patients treated with VTP experienced “serious” adverse effects (as compared to just 10 percent of the patients on active surveillance).
  • In his editorial that appeared in Lancet Oncology, Freedland apparently raises very serious questions about the value of this treatment based on the available data in the full text of the paper (which costs $31.50 to access for just 24 hours). He is quoted by HealthNewsReview as having written that

Although better than active surveillance, any treatment that leaves residual cancer in more than half the men (as in this study) is not ideal. Moreover, more than a quarter of men “progressed” within two years, again suggesting a non-ideal treatment.

Now we should also observe that HealthNewsReview has itself been misleading when it states that Freedland’s editorial is “publicly available on line” without noting that it also costs most people $31.50 to access the full editorial.

We would note that in our own commentary on this paper earlier this week we had expressed caution about the meaningfulness of the data in this study. Whatever the European Medicines Agency might decide about whether this form of therapy is approvable for the treatment of low-risk prostate cancer, we doubt that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would be enthused about approving this therapy on the basis of these data. However, we would also acknowledge that we should have obtained and read the full text of the paper by Azzouzi et al. prior to posting our original commentary (as opposed to relying on the information in the abstract). Clearly we didn’t think hard enough about that.

One Response

  1. This post is yet another example of why The New Prostate Cancer InfoLink is so important to prostate cancer patients’ education, support, and advocacy. All too often, media articles and research reports (and even abstracts) about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, sometimes from apparently reliable sources, contain omissions of material facts or worse, mis-statements of study results or data. The one constant we patient readers have is the Sitemaster’s consistent and relentless search for the truth, wherever it might be found.

    Sitemaster’s commentary on prostate cancer is as close to a “no spin zone” that exists anywhere online or in print. There is no hidden agenda or bias; the welfare of the patient is Sitemaster’s only concern. Sitemaster’s admission today of what he considered was an oversight in his not reviewing the full text of the study before posting his commentary (instead of only reviewing the abstract which itself contained some material omissions), is actually another testament to Sitemaster’s professionalism, honesty, and integrity. I think Sitemaster is too hard on himself! Thank you Sitemaster for your site and …

    Happy Holidays!


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