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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.
“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.
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.
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?
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
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.