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Proton Therapy article from NPR

Posts: 36
Joined: Jul 2011


This may be of interest to some of you.

Posts: 1013
Joined: Mar 2010

Seems kinda late to be worrying about the cost and effectiveness of PBT.

PBT was first invented and used to treat cancer in the mid-70's and has been in general use for prostate cancer for over 10 years now.

I also find it hard to believe that there have been no studies done in that time to "prove" it's long term effectiveness but, even if that's true, the anecdotal evidence clearly supports the conclusion that PBT is as effective as other less expensive radiation methods in terms of mortality and MORE effective in terms of reducing the common side effects of less advanced methods of treatments.

It's also been long known that PBT is an extremely expensive form of treatment, given the need to build a linear accelerator in order to deliver the radiation. However, if Medicare and other health insurers are willing to pay for it, who's to say that it's not worth distributing that cost across the insured group in order to pay for such treatment?

Cost is at least one of the reasons that Kaiser refuses to use CyberKnife treatment for prostate cancer, even though it has facilities available to use for that purpose. Kaiser is invested in 2 "lower cost" methods of treating prostate cancer -- brachytherapy and surgery -- and refuses to offer CK for PCa even though it has been "proven" to be as effective in terms of mortality in treating PCa and even MORE effective than those methods in terms of limiting side effects.

Why should men accept a less expensive but more risky (in terms of side effects) method of treatment when better alternatives are available simply because they cost more? Isn't the patient's post-treatment quality of life a relevant measure of "effectiveness"?

I certainly think it is and I chose to LEAVE Kaiser when given NO choice about what method of treatment I could receive there. Fortunately, Blue Shield was available to me and covered CK treatment but, if I didn't have that choice, I would stayed w/Kaiser but would have chosen to pay $50k out of pocket to UCSF to get the CK treatment that I received there anyway.

However, many men don't have the ability to make such choices and I believe that, if the treatments are available, they should have the same ability to receive them as everyone else -- not just those who are fortunately to have access to a carrier that will cover it or the money to pay for it themselves.

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