Cancer patients need to be made fully aware of the options available to them

The Academy of Royal Colleges announced this week too many needless surgeries were being performed when there are other alternative treatments available. Doctors need to explain the risks associated with treatment options fully to their patients.

In the same vein, patients need to be made fully aware of the options available to them. Specifically, our experience with prostate cancer shows the majority of patients are not aware of the different, non-surgical options available to them. As specialists in LDR brachytherapy over the last 25 years, we have seen extensive results positively showing how seed (LDR) brachytherapy is just as effective as surgery, with far fewer side effects for patients such as incontinence and impotence. In a recent Prostate Cancer Study Research group paper, we discuss the patient benefits and reduced side effects in more detail.

This recent announcement highlights the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and follows a 2015 Supreme Court ruling where the judgement highlighted the need for doctors to explain treatment options fully including potential harms for each. The risk of not doing so may result in a significant rise in NHS negligence claims.

For GPs, we don’t believe this ruling will have significant impact on time spent with patients. However, we would like to support GPs to share relevant information and advice with prostate cancer patients. Keen to receive your feedback on the type of information needed here. The ruling does however encourage patients to take an active role in their treatment options, for example understand the main risks, options and outcomes…..and choose the right treatment rather than rely on incomplete information. To help patients and their families, we have provided more information on prostate cancer and LDR brachytherapy.

Furthermore, we recognise that prostate cancer specialist doctors may find it hard to spend the additional 30 minutes with each patient, and the role of other members of the healthcare team will need to be expanded in the information provision and counselling of patients such as Specialist Nurses.

We recognise and actively support the skilful work of specialist nurses with Prostate cancer patients. We have developed education and training materials for prostate cancer Specialist nurses. View our dedicated resources for specialist nurses

We are continuing to invest in creating education and training material for prostate cancer healthcare teams to support patients with the choice of their treatment options.

In addition we can offer 1:1 training with your teams, we can provide workshops on LDR Brachytherapy. We are able to invite and host teams to visit any of our network of LDR Brachytherapy centres to see procedures and discuss LDR Brachytherapy with fellow prostate cancer clinicians.

We welcome your feedback and requests for how we can help you and your teams to learn more about LDR Brachytherapy and providing the right treatment choices for your patients

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If you need more information on LDR Brachytherapy to share with your patients please let us know and we can make specific content available