UCLA, RAND researchers help men with prostate cancer

Researchers from UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and RAND Health have developed a method to measure quality of care for patients with early-stage prostate cancer, providing for the first time a tool that can be used to help men decide where to go for the best medical care.

Researchers from UCLA and RAND created a comprehensive set of quality-of-care indicators during an 18-month study. The study results appear in the May 15 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Good care results in better outcomes, but no one knew before how to define good care," said Dr. Mark S. Litwin, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher, an associate professor of urology, a RAND consultant and the article's senior author. "That's what this paper does, establish what good care means in early-stage prostate cancer."

The study does not set out to determine which treatment is best for early-stage prostate cancer -- still a matter of considerable debate among physicians. Instead, the study focuses on where to go for the best care once a patient makes a treatment decision.

"Quality of care really does vary," Litwin said. "The indicators we developed will allow for the thoughtful creation of report cards that patients and primary-care physicians can use to make important decisions. This should help answer questions like 'Should I get on a plane and fly out to UCLA for this procedure or can I get comparable care here at home?'"

Researchers looked at surgery and external beam radiation treatment in assembling the quality-of-care indicators. Brachytherapy, the implantation of radioactive seeds into the prostate, was not widely available when the study was launched, so they did not include that procedure, Litwin said. Researchers plan to develop a set of indicators for brachytherapy later.

Measuring and assessing quality of care in medicine is a relatively new field, Litwin said. Until this study, little work had been done to quantify the quali

Contact: Kim Irwin
University of California - Los Angeles

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