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Proton Therapy’s Future Remains Unclear

Cancer patients who are considering proton-beam therapy courtesy of its more precise delivery of radiation may find the future of this breakthrough stands on shaky ground. Courtesy of exceptionally high costs to create and the amount of space required, the overall effectiveness of proton-beam centers is being cast into doubt. With a price tag of roughly $100 million to $200 million to build, the behemoth centers, which require about a football field-sized facility to house, may become a thing of the past before they really have a chance to take hold.

While a total of 30 proton-beam centers are expected to come online by 2018 in the United States, the cost and size requirements are forcing some to rethink their plans in regard to this treatment option. Some medical groups are experimenting with new compact centers that bring costs down while dramatically shrinking space requirements. As the controversy continues, some insurers are shying away from the treatments while medical facilities do their part to bring costs more in line with more traditional cancer treatments.

Shaky ground or not, proton-beam therapy is considered by many medical providers a step up from traditional radiation. This form of therapy delivers highly targeted beams directly to cancerous tumors. That means patients are spared from unnecessary radiation exposure, which can lead to a host of complications and side effects. The tissue-sparing precision of proton-beam therapy is precisely why many medical professionals are urging continued focus on this treatment.

With some companies now offering smaller setups for proton-beam therapy, it’s hoped the treatment will become more viable as practitioners scramble to show its continued benefits over traditional radiation. A new design offered by Mevion Medical Systems brings cost down dramatically, into the $25 million to $30 million range, breathing new life into this treatment option.

What the future holds for proton-beam therapy remains unclear, but physicians who favor its precision are doing their part to help make this treatment option viable for patients. To find out more about proton-beam therapy and other cancer treatment options, discuss the alternatives with a licensed healthcare provider.

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