Health News Review
  • Nov 5 2012

    Proton Beam Therapy: evaluating claims in ASTRO papers of “excellent” quality of life data

    Last week, the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s annual conference was held in Boston, and several papers were presented on proton beam therapy, and several medical centers sent out news releases about their involvement in the work.  MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston  and Loma Linda University Medical Center in California were two that we saw. I asked one of our HealthNewsReview.org story reviewers, Richard Hoffman, MD, MPH,  to…

  • Jun 12 2014

    Proton beam therapy – radiation oncology group weighs in on the evidence (and lack thereof)

    Usually when I make suggestions to journalists about things to cover, I urge them to report on questions of evidence for two of the fastest growing and most expensive medical technologies:  proton beam radiation therapy and robotic surgery. Recently, the American Society for Radiation Oncology issued a new model policy for proton beam therapy. In it, the group states that proton beam therapy is supported for use in what should be categorized as…

  • Dec 21 2012

    Texas-sized Battlefield Breakthrough hype by Dallas radio station – proton & robots

    New technologies such as proton beam radiation therapy and robotic surgery clearly offer some potential benefits to some patients (and to some health care providers who purchase these expensive technologies).  That is not in question.  What we write about on this site are the messages that the public may receive only about potential benefits of such technologies – in the absence of discussion about potential harms, the quality of the evide…

  • Jun 19 2012

    US health care: “haven for many, but sick Americans often jilted” – proton beam therapy a case in point

    The National Association for Proton Therapy states that there are currently 10 proton beam radiation facilities operating in the US, with 5 more under construction and 2 “in development.” Currently, the UK has none, but the National Health Service has announced plans to build centers in Manchester and London.  Until then, the NHS says it will fund treatment elsewhere for those cases contributed appropriate. In April, a journalist wro…

  • Sep 6 2013

    Insurers doing what feds haven’t in refusing to pay for proton beam therapy

    …o pay for some of the more expensive and controversial cancer treatments. Blue Shield of California is taking on this high-cost radiation treatment just as Scripps Health in San Diego prepares to open a gleaming, $230-million proton beam therapy center this fall, only the second one in California and the 12th nationwide. This week, Blue Shield began notifying doctors statewide of its new policy for early-stage prostate cancer patients, effective …

  • Jun 1 2013

    “Here they go again” – 3 new proton beam facilities w/in 40 miles in DC-Baltimore

    “When it comes to reining in health care spending, it still seems like each hospital administrator thinks the guy at the other hospital should do it.”  That was the lead, as Jenny Gold of Kaiser Health News reports that two Washington,DC hospitals – three miles apart – are building expensive proton beam radiation centers for cancer treatment. The two – Johns Hopkins’ Sibley Memorial Hospital and MedStar Health…

  • Nov 2 2010

    Proton beam therapy: Another reminder to never rely solely on press releases

    …that’s effective for treating inoperable lung cancer is potentially good news, so I asked to see the paper on which the release was based. I was disappointed. Nowhere in the paper were any data supporting the claim that proton beam therapy “may be superior to other conventional treatments for Stage I inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.” That’s because the study didn’t include any patients who got …

  • Dec 20 2012

    Oregon: Just saying “No” to expensive proton beam therapy (for now, at least)

    The Oregonian reports something you don’t hear very often these days – a medical center saying “NO” – at least for now – to the medical arms race. And by dropping their plans to acquire a proton beam therapy facility, they said “NO” in a big way.   The Oregonian reports: In recent years, large medical centers around the country have been building massive proton therapy machines costing $100 million and up, marketing them to men with prostate can…

  • Apr 17 2012

    In the BMJ: “Is spending on proton beam therapy for cancer going too far, too fast?”

    In a feature in the BMJ this week, journalist Keith Epstein asks, “Is spending on proton beam therapy for cancer going too far, too fast?” Excerpts: “…the spread of proton beam therapy for cancer has such momentum it now seems unstoppable. Millions of dollars have been invested in building the particle accelerators necessary to deliver it. Globally, 39 facilities are in use. The US has 10 proton beam centres, and 19 more …

  • Apr 17 2012

    JAMA paper on IMRT vs. proton beam for localized prostate cancer

    We’ve written numerous times on this site about the costly proliferation of newer forms of radiation therapy – intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and proton beam therapy. A paper in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association compares the two for localized prostate cancer.  The authors’ conclusion: Among patients with nonmetastatic prostate cancer, use of IMRT vs conformal radiation therapy increased…




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