Radiologists urge more discussion

There is a concern that not all patients who could benefit from radiation oncology are being made...
There is a concern that not all patients who could benefit from radiation oncology are being made aware of it. Photo: Getty Images
Prostate cancer patients need to be told radiation oncology is a treatment option for their condition, the Royal Australasian and New Zealand College of Radiologists says.

Concern not all patients who could benefit from the treatment were being told of it has led the college to release a position statement in which it calls for all prostate cancer patients to be referred to a radiation oncologist to discuss their options.

"We have tried to work with all the various relevant organisations over the years to get some joint pathways and referral guidelines established," the clinical lead of the statement, Sandra Turner, said.

"However, they miss the really very vital step that men need to talk to a radiation oncologist to get detailed information about radiation therapy ... in this document we are really trying to encourage other health providers, including GPs and specialists, to ensure men talk to surgeons about surgery, and to radiation oncologists about radiation therapy, then go away and think about it, talk to their families, and then make the decision which is right for them."

Associate Prof Turner, of Sydney University, said Australian and New Zealand radiation oncologists had worked closely together to draft the position statement.

"I'm not a New Zealand radiation oncologist, but I can assure you there has been broad consultation."

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men on either side of the Tasman - about 3000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with the disease annually.

It is also highly treatable - 95% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are alive five years' later.

However, the college was concerned some men were having their prostate removed without having been given the option of radiation therapy - a treatment received by fewer men than surgery.

"It (radiation therapy) has some advantages compared to surgery, and it also has some disadvantages," Prof Turner said.

"We're not saying one is better than the other; rather that men deserve to have all the information so that they can make a choice which is right for them. And that is what is not happening and what continues not to happen, which is why we have released the position statement."

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