Network Aims To Help Prostate Cancer Patients Track Disease

On Wednesday, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Prostate Cancer Foundation launched an online network that enables men with slow-growing, non-life threatening prostate cancer to track the progression of their disease, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports (O'Neill/Ramirez, "KPCC News," KPCC, 10/24).

About the Database

Patients participating in the National Proactive Surveillance Network agree to undergo an annual prostate biopsy as well as biannual digital rectum exams and antigen tests. Patients then can use the network's online portal to:

  • Access data on the progression of their disease;
  • Schedule follow-up appointments;
  • Answer lifestyle questionnaires; and
  • View a nutritional database (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 10/25).

Goals of the Initiative

The organizations launched the initiative in part because of research suggesting that up to half of all newly-diagnosed prostate cancer cases pose little-to-no threat to a patient's long-term health. Researchers say the network could:

  • Help patients engage in "proactive surveillance" of their disease; and
  • Allow physicians to determine which patients might benefit from aggressive treatment and which patients could delay such interventions.

Researchers also plan to use de-identified data from the biopsies -- as well as the blood, tissue and urine samples -- for future prostate cancer studies ("KPCC News," KPCC, 10/24).

Study: Web Information on Prostate Cancer Treatment Difficult To Understand

In related news, a new study published in the Journal of Urology finds that most websites with information about prostate cancer treatment require a reading level that exceeds the abilities of many U.S. residents, Reuters reports.

For the study, researchers from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., used two standard tools to gauge the readability of 62 websites with resources on prostate cancer treatment.

The study found most of the websites required at least a 12th-grade reading level and only a few were written at an 8th-grade reading level or lower, which is the reading level for about one-third of U.S. residents.

Gopal Gupta, an author of the study, said the results are worrisome because patients need to understand information about their disease to make informed decisions about their care. Gupta noted that NIH recommendations call for patient information be written at the 4th- to 6th-grade reading level (Norton, Reuters, 10/25).

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