Archive for October, 2012

Spinning Is With Us, Like It Or Not

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Isn’t it interesting the way information can be “spun” by those with an agenda, to make a point that fits their cause? One of the best examples of this is the political debates and subsequent analyses on network and cable television. They even have “spin rooms” where pundits from each side get together and take snippets of the debate (often out of context) to make their candidate look good and the other guy look bad.

Here’s another example of spinning the data: The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, accidental deaths caused by physicians per year are 120,000, or 0.171 per physician. The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80 million and, according to the FBI, the number of accidental gun deaths per year is 1,500. So, the number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.0000188. Therefore, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners. I guess you can conclude–guns don’t kill people … doctors do.

Ridiculous? Absolutely. But, this is no less ridiculous than some of the claims, attacks, and distortions being directed at proton therapy.

Early this year a terribly flawed study from the University of North Carolina, looking backwards, using Medicare billing codes to identify what they thought were side effects, concluded that proton therapy for prostate cancer is no better than IMRT, and proton produces more rectal side effects. All the other prospective, scientific, peer-reviewed studies, which reached different conclusions, were ignored. Nevertheless, the media loved it and ran with it. Clearly there was another “agenda” at work here.

But, truth, justice, and the facts are on our side. This month we begin our “Mythbuster” series of articles on the ten myths about proton therapy. We will debunk these myths, one at a time, with facts and reputable, published studies.

Our group consists of more than half the men alive today who have had proton therapy for prostate cancer. We have members representing every proton center in the U.S. and three overseas. Our 2009 survey of BOB membership showed conclusively that prostate cancer cure rates were at least as good as the best alternatives and quality of life after treatment far superior by every measure. A subsequent, scientific survey of our membership was far more comprehensive. These results have been analyzed and are soon to be published. We will let the results and the facts speak for themselves.

Stay tuned, Bob Marckini