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Men warned on prostate cancer treatment

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A warning to men considering a pricey new treatment for prostate cancer called proton therapy: Research suggests it might have more side effects than traditional radiation does.

Medicare records show that men treated with proton beams had one-third more bowel problems later, such as bleeding and blockages, than those given conventional radiation.

This is not a definitive study, but it is one of the largest to compare the treatments. Proton therapy is rapidly growing in use -- Medicare covers it -- though no rigorous studies have tested whether it is as safe or effective as usual care.

It costs around $48,000, at least twice as much as other prostate radiation treatments.

The new results suggest it may cause more complications, said Dr. Ronald Chen, a radiation specialist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and lead author of the study. -- AP

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