Doctors have created a free online computer tool, the CaP Calculator, that provides cancer specialists access to the latest prostate cancer research and helps them better individiualize each patient's treatment options, according to a study presented in a scientific session on September, 23, 2008, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 50th Annual Meeting in Boston.*
External beam radiation therapy, radiation seed implants (also called brachytherapy), and surgery are the standard treatments for early-stage prostate cancer. This Web-based tool allows doctors to enter information about a patient's cancer stage, based on their rectal exam, PSA levels and biopsy information. With the help of CaP Calculator, doctors can more accurately evaluate the risk of the disease spreading beyond the prostate, and the effectiveness of surgery and radiation treatment. It also provides an individualized printout to allow doctors to review the results with each prostate cancer patient.
"Men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer often have more than one treatment choice available," Matthew Katz, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Saints Medical Center in Lowell, Mass., said "It is often challenging for the patient and his family to make an informed choice about which treatment is better, unless adequate information is available. We designed CaP Calculator as a resource to help patients to talk to their doctors and feel more confident in their treatment decisions."
Although the tool was created for doctors to use and is not available for patients to access directly, the intent is for cancer specialists, including radiation oncologists and urologists, to input a patient's data to have an informed discussion with the man about all his treatment options. Men with prostate cancer who are interested in this tool should ask their prostate cancer specialist about accessing this free online tool.
"CaP Calculator still needs to be tested in clinical trials to see if this decision support tool can help reduce men's distress and uncertainty with a new prostate cancer diagnosis," Dr. Katz, who plans to test and develop this tool further with co-investigators at Harvard Medical School and the Cleveland Clinic, said.
*The abstract, "CaP Calculator: An Online Decision Support Tool to Improve Evidence-based Doctor-Patient Communication for Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer," was presented in a scientific session on September 23, 2008.
The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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