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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Medicare Contractor Covers Noninvasive Prostate Cancer Treatment


CUTTING EDGE: Oklahoma CyberKnife in Tulsa offers a noninvasive treatment for prostate patients aiming to destroy prostate cancer with high-dose radiation beams without the need for surgery or anesthesia.



Regional Medicare contractor TrailBlazer Health Enterprises covers prostate cancer using a treatment called CyberKnife.

In partnership with Hillcrest Medical Center, Oklahoma CyberKnife has been treating prostate cancer patients carrying commercial insurance since 2008. But until TrailBlazer Health’s announcement, patients carrying Oklahoma’s Medicare plan could not get this procedure covered through their insurance.

In January, TrailBlazer Health agreed to expand prostate cancer coverage to include CyberKnife treatment, provided patients are enrolled in a clinical study. This decision affects the company’s region of Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.

Oklahoma CyberKnife Administrator Allison Loehr says, “This policy revision culminates a long, persistent effort by many organizations and individuals in our region to ensure prostate cancer patients have fair access to treatments like CyberKnife.”

Loehr says TrailBlazer Health’s announcement will be life changing, considering that some patients may refuse standard treatments such as surgery and conventional radiation therapy, because of the potential side effects that may significantly impact their quality of life.

Take for example Muskogee business owner Vergil Fleming. When he’s not running his computer-sales company, Fleming can be found serving as a “roadie” for his wife, Suzanne, a popular local piano player. Fleming says helping her is his favorite pastime, especially after his battle with prostate cancer.

In 2009, Fleming chose the noninvasive treatment through Oklahoma CyberKnife in Tulsa. “CyberKnife was a breeze. There was no surgery, and I even got to listen to Frank Sinatra during my treatments,” he says. “Everyone was great, and best of all, I’m free of cancer.”

CyberKnife works by destroying prostate cancer with high-dose radiation beams aimed precisely at the tumor site from different angles without the need for surgery or anesthesia. CyberKnife has an advanced imaging and tracking system that continually updates the tumor location throughout the treatment procedure, even compensating for normal patient movements like breathing and ensuring the radiation beams are always locked on the tumor during treatment.

An outpatient procedure, CyberKnife treatment is complete in five or less treatment sessions compared to conventional radiation therapy, which typically requires treatment five days a week over a period of seven to eight weeks.

Recent five-year clinical data shows that CyberKnife treatment is effective with outcomes comparable to other prostate cancer treatments, including surgery and conventional radiation therapy.

According to study results, 93 percent of low-risk prostate cancer patients treated with CyberKnife had no recurrence of prostate cancer five years later. Moreover, the study confirmed that CyberKnife’s ability to spare healthy tissue minimizes side effects associated with other prostate cancer treatments.

“CyberKnife provides an effective, noninvasive treatment option for prostate cancer patients that’s completed in no more than five treatment sessions,” says Loehr. “This means patients benefit from a more rapid recovery, allowing them to return to their normal routines almost immediately.”

In partnership with Hillcrest Medical Center and local physicians, Oklahoma CyberKnife is located in Tulsa at 6802 S. Olympia Ave. They accept most insurance carriers and Medicare for prostate cancer treatment.

For more information, go to OklahomaCK.com or call 918-949-6676.

Updated 07-15-2012

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