TrailBlazer Health Enterprises, one of fifteen independent regional contractors for Medicare, has announced that it will begin covering CyberKnife treatment of prostate cancer as of today, Jan. 30, 2012, provided that patients are enrolled in a clinical study. This policy revision expands Oklahomans’ access to a treatment that was approved by the Food & Drug Administration more than a decade ago and has been covered by the other 46 states that are not part of the TrailBlazer region, which includes Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.
Tulsa-based Oklahoma CyberKnife has been treating prostate cancer patients with commercial insurance since the center opened in 2008 through a partnership with Hillcrest Medical Center, but Medicare prostate cancer patients in Oklahoma have been denied access to this treatment option until today. CyberKnife provides a form of treatment called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), a noninvasive method of treating tumors with high-dose radiation precisely aimed from different angles.
“This is a very exciting day for prostate cancer patients with Medicare coverage in our state,” said Allison Loehr, administrator of Oklahoma CyberKnife. “This policy revision culminates a long, persistent effort by many organizations and individuals in our region to ensure patients have fair access to treatments like CyberKnife.”
Recent five-year clinical data has proven the efficacy of CyberKnife treatment with outcomes comparable to other prostate cancer treatment five-year outcomes, including surgery and conventional radiation therapy. According to the results, 93 percent of low-risk prostate cancer patients treated with the CyberKnife in the study had no recurrence of their cancer five years later. Moreover, the study confirmed that CyberKnife’s ability to spare healthy tissue minimizes side effects associated with some other prostate cancer treatments. Click here to read the full study.
“CyberKnife provides a noninvasive treatment option for prostate cancer and can be completed in only five treatment sessions,” said Loehr. “This means patients benefit from a more rapid recovery, allowing them to return to their normal routines almost immediately.”
Loehr further explains that CyberKnife treatment costs less than conventional radiation therapy for prostate cancer and does not require the anesthesia and overnight hospital stay associated with surgery. This can translate into reduced health care costs, she says.
To view TrailBlazer’s revised policy now covering CyberKnife treatment of prostate cancer for patients enrolled in a clinical study, click here.