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 [...]

  • Nov 2 2012

    Pumping up proton beam therapy in the WSJ’s “Parable of Health-care Rationing”

    A physician who is a frequent reader of this blog – and of other media – wrote the following note to me: “This one from WSJ just left me speechless.  And I mean speechless.  Wow. Can you clip the ACA, device tax, Medicare cuts, AHRQ, IPAB and pump up proton beam therapy in one shot–the [...]

  • 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 [...]

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  • 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 [...]

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  • 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 [...]

  • Apr 11 2012

    Canada has 1 surgical robot for every 97 in the U.S.

    The surgeon who blogs as the Skeptical Scalpel – and who is a frequent critic of the proliferation of robotic surgical systems – is at it again, this time posting “Robots attack America, but Canada not so much.”   (Addendum on April 12:  Don’t miss our later post on direct-to-consumer website promotion of robotic prostatectomy.) [...]

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  • Mar 26 2012

    Bloomberg story: “Proton beam therapy like the death star of American medical technology”

    Bloomberg reports,”Prostate Cancer Therapy Too Good to Be True Explodes Health Cost.” It was Harvard health economist Amitabh Chandra who used the “death star” analogy in the story. He also said, “It’s a metaphor for all the problems we have in American medicine.” Further excerpts: Yet even though the machines are breathtakingly expensive, hospitals and [...]

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  • Feb 14 2012

    Proton beam therapy: if you build it, they will come

    A “research letter” in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week concludes: “To our knowledge, we show for the first time that the availability of a technology, in this instance a proton beam facility, in one’s HRR (hospital referral region*) is associated with a higher likelihood of receiving proton beam therapy compared with those living [...]

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  • Feb 1 2012

    Under-reported prostate cancer news: study questions proton beam therapy; NJ clash between evidence & politics

    As far as I can tell, Marilynn Marchione of the AP is the only mainstream news media journalist to report that  “A study of Medicare records found that men treated with proton beams later had one-third more bowel problems, such as bleeding and blockages, than similar men given conventional radiation.” She reports that results “were [...]

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  • Jan 4 2012

    Editorials cite “crazy medicine, unsustainable public policy” with new radiation treatments

    We should not overlook the Journal of Clinical Oncology editorial (opens as pdf file) that accompanied the robotic prostatectomy side effects paper about which we’ve already blogged. That editorial – by 3 authors from the University of California San Francisco cancer center – reminds readers that the costs of robotic prostatectomy (on average, they say, [...]

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