August 4, 2009 |
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.
June 26, 2009 |
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.
August 24, 2010 |
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.
December 7, 2011 |
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.
March 4, 2010 |
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.
July 23, 2009 |
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.
June 23, 2009 |
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.
August 9, 2009 |
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.
November 12, 2009 |
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.
June 30, 2009 |
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.