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Proton-Beam Therapy - Killing cancer with particle accelerator.

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posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 02:01 AM
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From a blog at DiscoverMagazine.com


“Death Star” of Medical Technology: Proton-Beam Therapy Shows “All the Problems” in US Healthcare




Source



Proton-beam therapy is massively expensive—$100+ million facilities, each treatment twice as much as radiation—and not proven to be any safer or more effective than other cancer treatments. So why are U.S. hospitals racing to build new proton-beam facilities?
Financial incentives, and the wrong ones, according to a skeptical piece at Bloomberg.






To be honest, I hadn't heard of this before running into the article. I also didn't find much on it with an ATS search but perhaps I was using the wrong search terms.

Did find one where someone got their head stuck in a particle accelerator.








“It’s like a nuclear arms race now, everyone wants one,” said Anthony Zietman, a radiation oncologist at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, which has had a proton-beam accelerator since 2001.


The original Bloomberg article





How's it work?


To house the 200-ton cyclotron that accelerates protons to 93,000 miles per second, the facilities have to be as big as football fields, with 16-feet-thick concrete walls. Hospitals can afford to build them because proton-beam therapy is “extremely favorably reimbursed” by Medicare and many private insurance companies, says Sean Tunis, CEO of the Center for Medical Technology Policy.

To foot the construction bill, hospitals will have to push the treatment aggressively to cancer patients.


The last sentence is a little worrying. "Pushing treatments" should not be something the medical community should do, at least not for economic reasons.



If you read the article in full you get a good idea of what's happening. This therapy seems to be quite useful in certain applications, and in others there are cheaper or less damaging alternatives. But what is happening is docs are recommending this to make up for the high initial cost of the system.

I'm a little conflicted, because new/newer technology I am always interested in. And in this case, it seems pretty interesting. But of course, hard to condone the use of something just because it is new, without adequate evidence on whether it be more effective or not.

Thoughts?




posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 02:13 AM
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Wow what the hell.... this thing looks futuristic.. but as far as I read it's pretty much a waste of money. They should stop building them & just use the existing ones as props for a sci-fi film.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 02:15 AM
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I think they use it now because it has a cool name.. lol..

But being serious about it, with what I've read about it. I can't seem to find a real reason why they'd like to use this new technology over the old one. Maybe in hopes that with using on a larger amount of people the success rates may be higher? What I mean by that is when they test a therapy or what not don't they only have a limited amount of people that they are able to test it on just to make sure it's safe?



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 02:23 AM
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Originally posted by RBinOkc
I think they use it now because it has a cool name.. lol..

But being serious about it, with what I've read about it. I can't seem to find a real reason why they'd like to use this new technology over the old one. Maybe in hopes that with using on a larger amount of people the success rates may be higher? What I mean by that is when they test a therapy or what not don't they only have a limited amount of people that they are able to test it on just to make sure it's safe?


Advantage of being more targeted.


The chief advantage of proton therapy is the ability to more precisely localize the radiation dosage when compared with other types of external beam radiotherapy.



In the case of pediatric treatments there is convincing clinical data showing the advantage of sparing developing organs by using protons, and the resulting reduction of long term damage to the surviving child


A comparison to xrays:


The X-ray advantage of reduced damage to skin at the entrance is partially counteracted by damage to skin at the exit point. Since X-ray treatments are usually done with multiple exposures from opposite sides, each section of skin will be exposed to both entering and exiting X-rays. In proton therapy, skin exposure at the entrance point is higher, but tissues on the opposite side of the body than the tumor receive no radiation. Thus, x-ray therapy causes slightly less damage to the skin and surface tissues, and proton therapy causes less damage to deeper tissues in front of and beyond the target.[3]


Wiki



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