Controversy over the value of proton beam radiation continues to harass clinicians as the therapy emerges to be extremely useful in some, but not all, cancers. Additionally, payers sometimes refuse to cover treatment costs due to lack of evidence of efficacy.
Everyone seems to agree that proton beam therapy—a type of radiation that can attack cancerous tumors while generally sparing the surrounding tissue—is an exciting technology with a lot of potential. But some insurers and disease experts say that, until there’s better evidence that proton therapy is more effective at treating various cancers than traditional types of less expensive radiation, coverage shouldn’t be routine.
That approach doesn’t sit well with proponents, some of whom say that insurance coverage is critical for necessary research of the controversial therapy’s uses.
Meanwhile, the number of proton therapy centers—huge structures that can cost more than $200 million—continues to increase. Fourteen are in operation in the United States and a dozen more under development, according to Leonard Arzt, executive director of the National Association for Proton Therapy.
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Source: Kaiser Health News