Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer face a confusing array of treatment choices, each with its own price tag and idiosyncratic side effects.
But when it comes to comparing the effectiveness of those treatments, things get political.
An international study that measured the long term survival rates from different prostate cancer treatments has needled the rivalries between the medical specialties that deal with the condition.
The biannual literature review by the Prostate Cancer Treatment Research Centre rated a type of radiation therapy known as brachytherapy as the most effective of six treatment options for men with a low or intermediate risk.
About 20,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Australia each year.
Radiation oncologists and urologists have tussled for years over the merits of their respective approaches, but urologists have traditionally had the advantage because they see the patients first when they come in for biopsies.
Radiation oncologist Sandra Turner said urologists were acting as gatekeepers to the treatment process, but failing to provide information about the alternatives to surgery.
She said the specialities were polarised in the field of prostate cancer partly because 75 to 80 per cent of operations were done in the private sector where most consultants did not work closely with peers from other disciplines… read the full article.