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VA cancer treatment causes more injury

June 23, 2009 at 3:59 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, June 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., says he plans a hearing on the prostate cancer treatment program at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said the case of the Rev. Ricardo Flippin, 68, was not unique. Four years ago Flippin chose radiation treatment at the Veterans Administration center that supposedly would target his prostate cancer and leave nearby organs healthy.

But his prostate cancer got too little radiation to be effective, the newspaper said, and his rectum received so much, the Air Force veteran suffered permanent damage that left him in excruciating pain.

Doctors at Ohio State University finally diagnosed and repaired the damage for the Charleston, W.Va., resident. But he says he still does not have control of his bowels.

The Philadelphia VA center has notified 92 prostate cancer patients treated between 2002 and 2008 that their radiation doses were either too high or too low, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has shut down the "brachytherapy" radiation program in Philadelphia and three other VA hospitals with less serious problems, the Inquirer said.

"The news accounts have created a great deal of concern in the veterans' community," Specter said.

He said he would hold a hearing Monday, and, "We need to find out what happened."

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