Patients fully informed of options: clinicians

Alastair Hepburn. Photo ODT
Alastair Hepburn. Photo ODT

Dunedin urologists and radiation oncologists say local prostate cancer patients are fully informed of all treatment options for their condition.

This week the Royal Australasian and New Zealand College of Radiologists issued a position statement calling for all prostate cancer patients to be referred to a radiation oncologist to discuss their options.

Prostate cancer is  treatable. Almost  all men diagnosed with the disease are still  alive five years later.

However, the college believed some men were having their prostate removed without having been given the option of radiation therapy.

Yesterday, southern urologists and radiation oncologists presented  a united front. 

Representatives from both disciplines said the college’s position statement did not reflect what was happening in the South, "In Dunedin every patient diagnosed with prostate cancer has a conversation about the pros and cons of radiation therapy as well as surgery,"  Southern District Health Board urology clinical director Alastair Hepburn said.

"If the patient is felt to be more appropriate for radiation therapy, they will be referred on to that department, where they will have that conversation."

Some patients were adamant they did not want radiation therapy and scheduling a meeting for them with a radiation oncologist would be inappropriate, Dr Hepburn said.

However, all patients would have the option presented to them.

"Some patients are more complex ... We have a meeting face to face with the radiation oncologists every two weeks where those patients are discussed and we make sure the best treatment is given to them."

Dr Hepburn’s view was echoed by consultant radiation oncologist John North, who said the college’s position statement reflected the Australian situation more than it did the New Zealand situation.

"That is particularly in Southern [DHB], where we have a very close relationship between radiation oncology and urology, where probably the vast majority of men who have the option for either surgery or radiation therapy are referred for a discussion."

Dr North said he believed even if a patient insisted they wanted an operation, the possibility of radiation therapy was suggested to them. 

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