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Article Analysis Part I – Trade Magazine

After browsing through both Radiology Today and the peer-reviewed International

Journal of Radiation Oncology-biology-physics, it is clear that the latter is a better resource to

cite in formal writing. Radiology Today is a trade magazine that publishes paper and digital

articles highlighting news and interesting information regarding the field of radiology. The

articles are surrounded by ads, links to social media, and a window to view job opportunities to

write for the magazine. In contrast, International Journal of Radiation Oncology-biology-physics

is organized and formal.1 My initial analysis will examine the Radiology Today article titled,

“Target on Therapy: Hydrogel Reduces Prostate Cancer Treatment Complications” by Edward

M. Soffen. Article analysis part I will reflect on the usefulness, accuracy, strengths, and

weaknesses of this trade magazine article.

Soffen introduces “Target on Therapy: Hydrogel Reduces Prostate Cancer Treatment

Complications” by detailing the typical diagnosis and course of treatment for prostate cancer.

This background information is presented in terminology that could be understood by individuals

with little to no experience in radiation oncology.1 Soffen continues to describe the use of

SpaceOAR, a hydrogel spacer that is placed between the prostate and rectum prior to receiving

external radiation.2 SpaceOAR helps reduce radiation-induced side effects, particularly rectal

and urinary toxicities.2 The magazine article summarizes studies that demonstrate the benefit of

using SpaceOAR for prostate patients.

As a dosimetry student, this article was interesting because it quickly summarized a

medical device within my field. The background information about prostate cancer was

unnecessary for me, because it did not provide any new information. Despite being interesting,
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the data regarding the efficacy of SpaceOAR does not provide any clinical use; it only presents a

small part of a study without including any information about how the study was completed. This

article is a good starting point when learning information about SpaceOAR, but for dosimetrists

to benefit clinically, additional research in peer-reviewed sources would be necessary.

Unlike some articles featured in Radiology Today, I do not have any questions about the

research data presented in “Target on Therapy: Hydrogel Reduces Prostate Cancer Treatment

Complications”. This is largely due to the fact that Soffen cites several sources, including peer-

reviewed journals that published the studies featured within the article. However, because Soffen

is only able to convey results of these studies, I have uncertainties about how significant this data

is. In peer-reviewed journal articles, research often lists any limitations or conflicts of interest in

paper. This is something that is lacking in Soffen’s article. Also lacking is any criticism or

alternative view about SpaceOAR, which could give the article some objectivity and increase the

author’s reliability. The end of the paper includes an excerpt that lists Soffen’s credentials and

job title. This increases my confidence in the author’s viewpoint, although I am still unaware of

any conflicts of interest that might exist or what Soffen’s compensation for the article might have


Soffen’s article in Radiology Today provides a strong introduction to a new medical

device. The piece could be helpful in patient education, because it gives contextual information

about the treatment of prostate cancer. It could also be informative for medical professionals

outside the field of radiation oncology, as Radiology Today caters to all radiologic technologists.

Soffen cites several sources, which makes it easier for the reader to find additional sources on the

subject. The article is concise, so it may reach more individuals who are unwilling to read a

detailed study from a professional journal. In contrast, the conciseness of the article can also be
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considered a weakness because it lacks details about SpaceOAR. The main weakness presented

in this article is that medical professionals within the field of radiation oncology would have

many unanswered questions after reading. As a dosimetry student, I would want to know more

information about how SpaceOAR works and the limitations of the cited studies.

Overall, Soffen provides an article that is valuable as an entertaining piece to those

interested in radiation oncology or prostate cancer. Although dosimetrists may find the article to

be interesting, it would not be informative in a clinical setting.

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1. Lenards N, Weege M. Reading and Writing in Radiation Therapy & Medical Dosimetry.

[SoftChalk]. La Crosse, WI: UW-L Medical Dosimetry Program; 2018.

2. Soffen EM. Target on Therapy: Hydrogel Reduces Prostate Cancer Treatment

Complications. Radiology Today. 2018;19 (6) : 30.

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Article Analysis Part II – Professional Journal

I chose a similar article from International Journal of Radiation Oncology-biology-

physics to contrast the article from the trade magazine. This journal conveys a study that

intended to test a hypothesis, unlike the trade magazine that summarized a topic.1 Written by

Michael Pinkawa et al, “Quality of Life After Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer With a

Hydrogel Spacer: 5-Year Results” is written formally and intended for professionals in the field

of radiation oncology.1 Pinkawa et al use statistical methods to quantify their research.1 The

authors also cite prior studies that reinforce their findings. These are common qualities of a

professional journal that holds more scientific value than a trade magazine.1 Article analysis part

II will reflect on the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusion of “Quality of Life After

Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer With a Hydrogel Spacer: 5-Year Results”.

Pinkawa et al sought out to evaluate the changes in quality of life for prostate cancer

patients following radiation therapy with a hydrogel spacer for 5 years after treatment. The

article demonstrates the need for the study by explaining that in typical prostate treatments, the

rectum is often included in the high-dose volume, and the spacer can be used to create distance

between the organs.2 The study establishes further background information by referencing prior

studies that reinforce the need for spacers. This literature was current and relevant to the study

being presented.

Pinkawa et al identified 54 patients who received a hydrogel spacer prior to radiation

therapy. The patients were treated under the same constraints and techniques. The patients self-

reported their experiences with side effects at set intervals following treatment using a 50-item
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questionnaire system.2 This questionnaire was also given to prostate cancer patients who were

treated under the same conditions, without the hydrogel spacer. Results were analyzed using

statistical analysis software. Patients who received the spacer reported a lower bowel bother

score than those who did not receive a spacer at 17 and 63 months after treatment.2 Patients

treated with the spacer tended to report lower sexual bother scores as well.2 Pinkawa et al

recognize that further research is necessary to identify potential long-term results, and the article

is limited to side effects observed within 5 years of treatment.

The article concluded that patients demonstrate excellent treatment tolerability within the

first 5 years after radiation therapy with hydrogel spacer implants.2 The authors note the

dosimetric advantage that is displayed in their results and reference prior studies that reinforce

the same conclusion. Pinkawa et al consider disadvantages of the hydrogel spacer by discussing

cost effectiveness and potential toxicities following implantation. The authors encourage future

research that continues to test the effectiveness of spacers with hypofractionated or re-irradiation

concepts. Pinkawa et al address their given hypothesis by confirming that the spacer patients do

not experience a differing long-term bowel quality of life from the baseline level before

treatment.2 The article cites 19 references that are relevant and mostly current.

My overall impression is that the article conveys a well-conducted study that answers the

author’s proposed hypothesis effectively and accurately. Although, the authors do present that

conventional radiation therapy is well tolerated for the vast majority of patients. This brings up

concern that other preventable factors might contribute to increased rectal side effects, such as

inconsistencies in rectal volume throughout treatment. Overall, Pinkawa et al adequately convey

the benefit of hydrogel spacers in prostate radiation therapy treatments.

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After comparing the two articles, the professional journal is the superior option in quality

and presentation of information. The intent of the article found in Radiology Today is to provide

a larger audience with a short summary of hydrogel spacers in the treatment of radiation

therapy.1 The article found in International Journal of Radiation Oncology-biology-physics is

more detailed and scientific, intended to provide clinically useful information for professionals in

radiation oncology.1
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1. Lenards N, Weege M. Reading and Writing in Radiation Therapy & Medical Dosimetry.

[SoftChalk]. La Crosse, WI: UW-L Medical Dosimetry Program; 2018.

2. Pinkawa M, Berneking V, Schlenter M, Krenkel B, Eble MJ. Quality of Life After

Radiation Therapy forProstate Cancer With a Hydrogel Spacer: 5-Year Results.

International Journal of Radiation Oncology-biology-physics. 2017;99(2):