Health News Review
  • 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…

  • 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 latter being center of story? Yup. “ Let me explain his acronyms: ACA = Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) AHRQ = US Agency for Hea…

  • Mar 17 2011

    Questions about proton beam therapy in health care industry magazine

    Anthony J. Montagnolo, executive vice president and chief operating officer at ECRI Institute, writes in Trustee magazine, “A Question of Value: Proton therapy’s benefits have a big price tag. Is it right for your hospital?“ Although this is an article and a publication targeted at directors of hospitals and health care systems, what it says should be of interest to journalists, patients and consumers. Excerpt: “First qu…

  • 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 for-profit clinics are in a race to build proton- beam faciliti…

  • Apr 2 2010

    Cancer treatment debate asks: is proton beam proliferation outpacing evidence?

    In any talk I give to journalists, I encourage them to look into the proliferation of proton beam facilities for cancer therapy. Few have done so with any zeal. • The New York Times did a good job. • The Columbus Dispatch did not. Journalist Merrill Goozner gives ample food for thought in an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “The Proton Beam Debate: Are Facilities Outstripping the Evidence?” (subscription …

  • Oct 21 2010

    “A world of free lunches” – including payment for IMRT & proton beam for prostate CA

    …nsional radiation, costs Medicare about $10,000. Another treatment, a targeted form of radiation known as I.M.R.T., came along a decade ago and initially cost about $42,000. Lately, Medicare has also started covering a third, proton radiation therapy, for which it pays $50,000. No solid research has shown I.M.R.T. to be more effective at keeping people alive, with minimum side effects, than three-dimensional radiation. The backing for proton ther…

  • 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 discussed Tuesday in a telephone news conference sponsored by the American Society of Clinical On…

  • Nov 8 2011

    “$430 Million Proton Beam Center War” – latest chapter playing out in San Diego

    I have written many times on this blog about one shining example of the medical arms race – the slow (some would say not so slow), steady, proliferation of huge and hugely expensive proton beam radiation facilities in medical centers in the US. I have written about how the proliferation never seems to occur in single units – rarely just one per town – but almost always two simultaneously – the medical arms race among hea…

  • 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 in an HRR where this technology is not available.” * The Dartmouth Atlas de…

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