Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

August 6, 2012

COLUMN: Veteran's Corner

— A major federal study led by the Department of Veterans Affairs found no difference in survival between men with early stage prostate cancer who had their prostate surgically removed and those who were simply watched by their doctors, with treatment only as needed to address symptoms if they occurred. This study is a prime example of how the VA’s research program is advancing medical knowledge in areas that are top priority for veterans.

The randomized trial involved 731 men and took place at 44 sites and eight academic medical centers nationwide. Known as the Prostate Cancer Intervention Versus Observation Trial, or PIVOT, the study was conducted and funded by the VA’s Cooperative Studies Program, with additional funding from the National Cancer Institute and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The first trial group had a radical prostatectomy, surgical removal of the walnut sized prostate.  The second trial group was the observation group.  

When the results were analyzed, no difference was found in death rates between the two groups, either from any cause whatsoever or specifically from prostate cancer. In terms of quality of life for men in the study, the surgery group experienced nearly double the rate of erectile dysfunction, 81 percent versus 44 percent, and roughly three times the rate of urinary incontinence, 17 percent versus 6 percent. Bowel dysfunction was similar between the groups, 12 percent versus 11 percent.   

While PIVOT found no difference in overall mortality or prostate cancer deaths between the two groups for men, who had cancers with a PSA value of 10 or less, the trial states that there may be a survival benefit to surgery for men with PSA scores above 10 or other clinical results indicating more aggressive, higher risk tumors.

For additional information on the Cooperative Studies Program and VA research overall, visit www.research.va.gov.  

On July 29 announcement of the use of $1.5 million dollars from the 2012-2013 biennial budget, to address the back log of veterans claims pending before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was made by Governor Rick Perry, along with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus. Gov. Perry also authorized a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Office so TVC can begin addressing the issue immediately. The TVC will create the State Strike Force Team at each of the two VA regional offices in Waco and Houston. Claims teams will also be developed in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Temple, Austin, San Antonio and McAllen. Currently, 74 percent of claims in the Houston Regional Office and 78 percent of claims in the Waco Regional Office, have been pending for more than 125 days.

Dewhurst stated “it is unconscionable that service members are forced to wait so long for benefits. These individuals did not wait when asked to serve our country and they shouldn’t be asked to wait for their country to return the favor.” For more information contact the Texas Veterans Commission at www.tvc.state.tx.us/.



Reach Jim Vines at jim.helpingveterans@gmail.com.

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