Dr. Rob looks at real prostate cancer awareness: turning prostate CA into CASH

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Read this analysis of how the makers of the DaVinci Robotic Surgical System promote prostate cancer awareness, by blogger Dr. Rob. Excerpt:

To summarize:

* Prostate cancer screening is controversial, as it fails to differentiate between the minority of men who would die from the disease from the majority who would simply die with it.
* PSA testing has greatly increased the number of men diagnosed with early stage cancers.
* Prostate cancer surgery or radiation therapy is recommended for men who have early stage cancers.
* Aggressive prostate cancer treatment has to be done 48 times to save one life.
* The most expensive treatment for prostate cancer is prostatectomy, or removal of the prostate.
* The robotic form of the surgery is a higher-cost procedure by a significant amount.

So, an expensive form of surgery that may not be appropriate is done on a group of men identified on a very unreliable test yielding a very small number of lives saved and a lot of men who then have to deal with the physical consequences of the surgery. Why in the world is this being promoted at all?

Money. Here's the homepage of one of our local hospitals. They have aggressively marketed da Vinci surgery on television, billboards, and the radio.

Why do you think they would pay as much money as they do for this device? It's good business? Not so fast. Dr. Paul Levy stated back in 2007 about this very procedure:

Here you have it folks -- the problem facing every hospital, and especially every academic medical center. Do I spend over $1 million on a machine that has no proven incremental value for patients, so that our doctors can become adept at using it and stay up-to-date with the "state of the art", so that I can then spend more money marketing it, and so that I can protect profitable market share against similar moves by my competitors?

No, hospitals are employing this just to keep pace. The real winner in this is Intuitive Surgical, Inc., who has been a darling of Wall Street, beating estimates in earnings with a Q2 net profit of $62.4 Million.

1 Comment

Did you see later where Mr. Levy posted on his blog about somewhat eating his words on DaVinci when they got one?

Not to take away from the point though on marketing and what do you need and what is marketing. As a blogger myself I get a lot of material sent to me and I do try to look at certain items and figure out which is an awareness and education item and what is flat out marketing too. I can be tricky at times and as technology changes things every day, new paradigms seem to be developing rapidly too.

The new documentary, "Money Driven Medicine" really makes some good points too about hospital and healthcare marketing, want profits, do more it states and that all gets mixed in as to how patients are diagnosed and treated today.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on September 18, 2009 11:55 AM.

Pushing prostate cancer screening to even younger ages was the previous entry in this blog.

Another prostate cancer awareness issue: lack of training & standards for robot users is the next entry in this blog.

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