Health News Review
  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Oct 7 2010

    Illinois’ first proton therapy center ready to open – but Illinois’ top paper not ready to ask tough questions

    A Chicago journalist friend wrote me recently about a story in the Chicago Tribune. The accompanying message read, “This one belongs in the paid ads department.” It was another story singing the praises of proton beam therapy for cancer. It followed almost the exact same formula of a Columbus Dispatch story we wrote about earlier on this blog: • unfortunate person has to travel a long way to get proton beam therapy he/she canR…

  • 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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