The Results of Proton Therapy and Cancer


AUGUST, 2017

by S. Terry Kraus, M.D.

Proton therapy is a relatively new type of radiation treatment.  At a most recent American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting there was a paper presented from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, Texas.  The study was conducted at both M.D. Anderson and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, in Boston, Massachusetts.

The equipment in a “small” Proton Therapy Center is approximately $30 million dollars.  The equipment in a “large” Proton Cancer Therapy Center can be in excess of $240 million.  It was found that there were no differences in survival rates, number of recurrences and side effects between more conventional cancer treatment and proton therapy.

A summary of the data was presented by Dr. Edelman from the University of Maryland Cancer Center.  The life time cost of proton therapy is $73,000, which is $30,000 greater than more conventional, sophisticated radiation treatment.  (Lifetime cost is the cost of the in individuals expected lifetime.)  Dr. Edelman stated that “proton centers are springing up like mushrooms after a rain storm.”

There are, of course, specific cancers or location of a cancer that proton therapy may be of benefit.  If one has a hammer, everything looks like a nail.