Docs not sold on proton therapy

The high cost of proton beam therapy and limited data on its effectiveness as a cancer treatment has providers hesitant to embrace the technology, a new report from Orem, Utah-based healthcare research firm KLAS concludes.

An investment in proton therapy can run as much as $200 million, although many providers surveyed actually underestimated the cost, pegging the median expense at $100 million, according to Health Imaging. What's more, according to report author Monique Rasband, electricity costs for such centers are reportedly as much as $1 million annually.

"For most providers, the initial investment in proton therapy is too much for them to even consider adopting the technology," Rasband said, according to Health Imaging. "Most of the currently live proton therapy centers are partnered with outside investors and rely on donors to help make it happen."

Providers were also torn as to proton therapy's effectiveness on patients. One-fourth of the 100 providers surveyed thought its side effects were equal to or worse than those associated with traditional radiation therapy, according to Health Imaging. A radiation oncologist at Hampton (Va.) University's proton-beam center, however, said evidence exists showing the latter to be true.

Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital is preparing to launch a five-year study at six such centers nationwide to try to definitively answer that question, according to the Boston Globe.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement of the study
- here's the Health Imaging article
- read the Boston Globe's article

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