publication date: Apr. 12, 2019

Correction to April 5, 2019 story on robotic mastectomy

story about robotic mastectomy that appeared in the April 5 issue of The Cancer Letter reported incorrectly that surgeon Stephen A. Chagares had performed robotic mastectomies at Monmouth Medical Center without a surgical trial protocol.

This error occurred because incorrect information was provided to The Cancer Letter by sources that would ordinarily be deemed to be knowledgeable. Repeated efforts had been made to obtain the answers from named sources on record, but were unsuccessful. We rely on unnamed sources on occasion, always checking whether they would be privy to information they provide.

We have since learned that there was a protocol, that patients were informed about the research risk and that they had signed informed consent forms. This detail doesn’t alter the main thesis and conclusions of the story, which focuses on studies of robotic mastectomy.

After learning that incorrect information had been given to us, The Cancer Letter submitted 32 questions to Monmouth, but received a response that we do not regard as informative:

“Of paramount concern to Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) is patient safety. After an evaluation of the robotic mastectomy procedure, MMC promptly suspended the procedure, pending additional investigation of its risks and benefits.”

Attorneys for Chagares also responded to The Cancer Letter, stating that the surgeon is precluded by the institutional review board rules from responding to questions from The Cancer Letter:

“Maggs & McDermott, LLC represents Stephen Chagares, M.D., with respect to the article regarding robotic mastectomy published by The Cancer Letter. Dr. Chagares received an email from Paul Goldberg setting forth a series of questions that The Cancer Letter believes are relevant with respect to the article. As you know, the surgical procedure discussed in the article is subject to an IRB/Clinical Trial Study. Like all IRB studies, this study contains a standard confidentiality clause that prevents disclosure of the specifics of the study. Therefore, Dr. Chagares cannot respond to any questions that refer or relate to the study and the article unless authorized by the IRB Committee.”

The 32 questions from The Cancer Letter and subsequent correspondence are appended to the original story.

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