Earlier this year, I wrote about how an Ohio newspaper dropped the ball in failing to ask tough questions about expanding use of proton beam therapy.
Now blogger Merrill Goozner - as he often does - asks some of those questions I would look for in such a story. Excerpt:
Anyone worried about the escalating cost of questionable medical technology might want to take a close look at proton beam radiation therapy for cancer. There are now six centers in the U.S. that can deliver the precision radiation ion beams. At least five more are either under construction or in development. Pricetag: anywhere from $100 to $225 million each.
And what's the evidence that proton beams are a superior alternative for tumors located in highly sensitive areas where the risk of collateral damage from radiation is high? "No study found that charged particle radiotherapy is significantly better than alternative treatments with respect to patient-relevant clinical outcomes," a new Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research technical brief reports.
Still, that hasn't stopped leading academic medical centers and even some suburban hospitals from plunging ahead and investing in the high-tech facilities.