Proton-Beam Therapy Is Not Better Than Traditional Radiation despite Its Higher Cost – Study

December 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

In the application of radiation therapy to treat men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there is an ongoing debate on whether the latest technology of using proton-beam radiation therapy or the traditional radiation would better help the lot of the patient.

While some experts are rooting for the proton -beam therapy, opponents are of the opinion that the new radiation technology does not benefit patients more than the traditional therapy.

A new study carried out on 30,000 men who are Medicare beneficiaries for radiation treatments has revealed that proton -beam therapy provided no long-term benefit over traditional radiation. The details or findings of the study have been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

An online article published December 14, 2012 on Fox News reveals some interesting details about the proton-beam therapy, its cost, and comparison with traditional radiation treatment. An excerpt from the article reads:

Proton radiotherapy uses atomic particles to treat cancer rather than X-rays and theoretically can target tumors more precisely. But it requires a particle accelerator roughly the size of a football field that typically costs about $180 million.

Faith in the superiority of proton therapy by some has sparked an arms race among major medical centers. Ten proton accelerators are in operation in the U.S., and nine more are in development, including two by the Mayo Clinic and one by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and a consortium of other hospitals in New York City.

Ion Beam Applications of Belgium is the leading manufacturer. Others include Hitachi Ltd., Varian Medical Systems Inc. and Mevion Medical Systems Inc.

Critics long have cited proton-beam therapy as a costly new technology with no proven advantage. Medicare pays over $32,000 per patient for proton therapy, compared with under $19,000 for radiation, according to the study.

Moreover, many experts are still debating on the effectiveness of proton-beam therapy over a standard radiation. The main debate has been over the side effects of the two treatments.

proton Beam Technology(courtsey: google Image)

Conclusively, the Fox News article reveals: Proton-beam therapy has been the subject of heated debate among urologists, radiation oncologists and health-care cost analysts.

The therapy isn’t considered more effective than standard radiation, or surgery, at stopping the cancer.

And the patient experience is about the same as with standard radiation: Patients typically have daily treatments, Monday through Friday, for approximately eight weeks. Each treatment is painless, and lasts about five minutes.

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