Patients have a right to choose treatment options

There's one question Jay Hancock failed to consider in his column on urologists who refer patients to radiation centers that they own ("Self-referral rules or not, business as usual for clinic," May 17): What is the role of the patient in determining how to defeat their cancer?

In neglecting this question, Mr. Hancock falls victim to a problem that afflicts the majority of our health-care system today — putting patients last.

Last year, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was concerned, but knew exactly where to turn. Over the past two years, I had worked first-hand with Chesapeake Urology Associates, an organization that brought free prostate cancer screening to my congregation and to other Baltimore City communities.

The physicians at CUA talked with me about all of my treatment options — active surveillance, surgery and radiation therapy. I chose radiation, and was able to be treated at the same facility throughout the process.

As pastor of an 1,100 member congregation, I was comforted by not having to run from doctors' offices to hospitals to radiologists and back again. My care was coordinated, my treatment team monitored the whole experience and I had no complications. And today, I have my life back.

The cost of care is important. But Mr. Hancock is misguided when he only takes the word of other doctors fighting for market share over the experience of patients who have been treated — and cured — of prostate cancer. Chesapeake Urology puts patients first.

Marshall Prentice, Baltimore

The writer is pastor of Zion Baptist Church.

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