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Brachytherapy

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NEWS
August 4, 2009 | By Marie McCullough INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) yesterday visited the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center to meet with five prostate-cancer patients who received radioactive seed implants in the VA's troubled brachytherapy program. The six-year-old program was shut down about a year ago amid revelations that 92 of 114 veterans received inadequate radiation to their prostates or excessive radiation to nearby tissues. So far, six patients have had cancer recurrences, while eight are showing signs that their treatment failed, according to ongoing investigations.
NEWS
June 26, 2009 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The University of Pennsylvania radiation oncologist at the center of the controversy about the Philadelphia VA Medical Center's prostate cancer program has taken a leave from Penn's medical school. Gary D. Kao "asked for a leave of absence" and it was granted yesterday, said Susan E. Phillips, senior vice president of the Penn health system, in response to The Inquirer's questions about the doctor's status. Kao also will voluntarily attend a hearing at the Philadelphia VA hospital on Monday to answer questions about the program, his lawyer, Jack Gruenstein, said.
NEWS
August 24, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein, Inquirer Staff Writer
  The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday levied a $39,000 fine against the Department of Veterans Affairs for radiation safety violations at prostate cancer programs in 12 VA hospitals nationwide. The penalty followed a $227,500 fine in March against the veterans agency for failures in the prostate brachytherapy program at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, where dozens of veterans got incorrect doses of radiation over six years. Those mistakes prompted investigations at other VA hospitals of brachytherapy, which involves using radiation to kill tumor cells.
NEWS
December 7, 2011 | By Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO - New research casts doubt on a popular treatment for breast cancer: a week of radiation to part of the breast instead of longer treatment to all of it. Women who were given partial radiation were twice as likely to need their breasts removed later because the cancer came back, doctors found. The treatment uses radioactive pellets briefly placed in the breast instead of radiation beamed from a machine. At least 13 percent of older patients in the United States get this now, and it is popular with working women.
NEWS
March 4, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania reported a possible radiation error involving the treatment of a man for prostate cancer. On Jan. 21, the patient underwent a prostate brachytherapy procedure to implant 65 radioactive seeds to kill cancer cells in the acorn-size gland. But when he returned for a follow-up scan Feb. 23, Penn doctors saw that the seeds were "outside the intended target. " The incident seems to echo some of the problems at the Penn-run brachytherapy program at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.
NEWS
July 23, 2009 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
For the first time, a federal official yesterday quantified how many prostate cancer patients may face a poor prognosis as a result of substandard care at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. The treatment was clearly not effective in six veterans who received radioactive seed implants, based on the blood protein test that monitors signs of prostate cancer. An additional eight patients may also have suffered treatment failures; their PSA test levels have begun to rise - a worrisome sign, Michael Hagen, the VA's national director of radiation oncology services, told members of the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations yesterday.
NEWS
June 23, 2009 | By Marie McCullough INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Four years ago, after talking to doctors at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, the Rev. Ricardo Flippin opted for a radiation therapy that would precisely target his prostate cancer and leave nearby organs unharmed. Instead, his prostate cancer got too little radiation while his rectum received so much that he suffered excruciating, permanent damage. Flippin, 68 - a minister, teacher, and Air Force veteran - is hardly unique. The Philadelphia VA has notified 92 prostate cancer patients treated between 2002 and 2008 that their "brachytherapy" radiation doses were too high or too low. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has shut down the brachytherapy program in Philadelphia and three other VA hospitals with less serious problems.
NEWS
August 9, 2009 | By Marie McCullough and Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
When the Philadelphia VA Medical Center decided in the late 1990s to start providing a popular prostate cancer therapy, it turned to its longtime, distinguished partner in medicine - the University of Pennsylvania. That turned out to be a questionable move. Penn had just published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that the radiation implant treatment, called brachytherapy, wasn't as effective as other therapies. The finding was swiftly attacked by critics who said the real issue was the poor quality of Penn's program.
NEWS
November 12, 2009 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Rep. John Adler (D., N.J.) announced yesterday that he hopes to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to report to Congress the quality of all the small programs in its hospitals and other medical facilities. The goal is to prevent a repeat of problems that plagued prostate cancer care at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center as well as programs at other VA hospitals. Adler's legislation focuses on three areas: small programs, where medical errors and poor care are most likely to avoid detection; radiation safety; and contracts with private doctors and hospitals.
NEWS
June 30, 2009 | By Marie McCullough INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Barry Lackro was exposed to the notoriously toxic defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam in the early 1970s. He wasn't surprised when he developed prostate cancer in 2004 at age 54, but he took heart that the malignancy was caught early and was highly curable with either surgery or radiation. Today, almost five years later, he not only has terrible complications from his treatment, but also expects the cancer to kill him. Lackro's complex case raises new questions about the quality of prostate-cancer care provided by the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and its contractor, the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
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NEWS
December 7, 2011 | By Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO - New research casts doubt on a popular treatment for breast cancer: a week of radiation to part of the breast instead of longer treatment to all of it. Women who were given partial radiation were twice as likely to need their breasts removed later because the cancer came back, doctors found. The treatment uses radioactive pellets briefly placed in the breast instead of radiation beamed from a machine. At least 13 percent of older patients in the United States get this now, and it is popular with working women.
NEWS
August 24, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein, Inquirer Staff Writer
  The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday levied a $39,000 fine against the Department of Veterans Affairs for radiation safety violations at prostate cancer programs in 12 VA hospitals nationwide. The penalty followed a $227,500 fine in March against the veterans agency for failures in the prostate brachytherapy program at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, where dozens of veterans got incorrect doses of radiation over six years. Those mistakes prompted investigations at other VA hospitals of brachytherapy, which involves using radiation to kill tumor cells.
NEWS
July 3, 2010 | By Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
Over the last year, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center has taken most of the public heat for a prostate-cancer-treatment program that went astray for six years, giving incorrect radiation doses to 97 out of 114 veterans. Now, the University of Pennsylvania - which designed, staffed, and supervised the radiation program - is feeling the pressure. Five veterans who received substandard therapy have filed federal lawsuits against various university entities, including its hospital and health system.
NEWS
May 26, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found the Department of Veterans Affairs in apparent violation of three federal regulations involving radiation use at 13 VA hospitals across the country, including the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. While the action could result in a fine, the bigger issue is that the commission could strip the VA of its ability to oversee radiation services at all 153 hospitals nationwide. The commission would then take on those duties or assign them to states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey that have that capability.
NEWS
May 26, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found the Department of Veterans Affairs in apparent violation of three federal regulations involving radiation use at 13 VA hospitals across the country, including the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. While the action could result in a fine, the bigger issue is that the commission could strip the VA of its ability to oversee radiation services at all 153 hospitals nationwide. The commission would then take on those duties or assign them to states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey that have that capability.
NEWS
March 18, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Philadelphia VA Medical Center was hit with a $227,500 fine by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday for poor care in a prostate cancer program that resulted in 97 veterans getting incorrect doses of radiation. The fine levied against the Department of Veterans Affairs was the second largest ever by the NRC against a medical facility. The VA has 30 days to contest the fine. "The VA Philadelphia had a total breakdown in management oversight, a total breakdown in the program, and a total breakdown in safety culture that resulted in these egregious failures," said Steve Reynolds, director of the division of nuclear material safety for NRC Region III, which oversees the Veterans Health Administration.
NEWS
March 4, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania reported a possible radiation error involving the treatment of a man for prostate cancer. On Jan. 21, the patient underwent a prostate brachytherapy procedure to implant 65 radioactive seeds to kill cancer cells in the acorn-size gland. But when he returned for a follow-up scan Feb. 23, Penn doctors saw that the seeds were "outside the intended target. " The incident seems to echo some of the problems at the Penn-run brachytherapy program at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.
NEWS
January 16, 2010 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
In a dramatic about-face, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center has acknowledged that its troubled prostate cancer program violated federal radiation rules meant to protect patients from harm. Just last month, Philadelphia VA officials disputed the finding of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigation that the hospital committed eight safety violations in its prostate brachytherapy program. They did so despite an internal Department of Veterans Affairs review showing that 97 of 114 prostate cancer patients treated over six years at the hospital received incorrect doses of radiation.
NEWS
December 18, 2009 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Department of Veterans Affairs yesterday apologized repeatedly for a prostate-cancer program that gave incorrect radiation doses to veterans for six years at its main Philadelphia hospital. At the same time, officials from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and the Veterans Health Administration mounted a vigorous defense against charges by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they had apparently violated eight regulations in the medical use of radioactive materials.
NEWS
November 25, 2009 | By Josh Goldstein INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Injured veterans and their spouses have filed 31 claims against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for botched prostate cancer care at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, internal records show. Twenty-seven men who received prostate brachytherapy at the Philadelphia VA and four veterans' wives are seeking a total $58 million in damages for radiation errors at the hospital from 2002 to 2008, according to documents obtained by The Inquirer through a Freedom of Information Act request.
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