Website to help prostate cancer specialists make better treatment choices

6 October 2008

A free online computer tool, the CaP Calculator, provides cancer specialists access to the latest prostate cancer research and helps them better individualise each patient’s treatment options, according to a study presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology’s 50th Annual Meeting in Boston in September.

External beam radiation therapy, radiation seed implants (also called brachytherapy), and surgery are the standard treatments for early-stage prostate cancer. The new 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,” said Dr Matthew Katz, lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Saints Medical Center in Lowell, USA. “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,” said Dr Katz, who plans to test and develop this tool further with co-investigators at Harvard Medical School and the Cleveland Clinic.

For more information on radiation therapy for prostate cancer, visit 

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