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Continued: Mayo's proton beam therapy adds to debate over high-tech costs

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 19, 2014 - 5:21 AM

Minnesota’s largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said Tuesday that proton therapy is currently covered for treatment of localized prostate cancer and a few other clinical situations. But that may change. “We do want to point out that the National Comprehensive Cancer Network for Prostate Cancer currently takes the position that proton therapy is not recommended for routine use,” the insurer said.

Foote said the Yale study was limited by its use of Medicare data. “They don’t have real outcomes data. They just have bills,” he said.

The Yale study, he said, failed to consider the cost of treating secondary cancers that emerge sometimes years after surgery. Massachusetts General Hospital, which has had a proton therapy program for decades, found that proton beam therapy dramatically reduces the risk of radiation-induced cancers, Foote said.

“It does cost more to treat with radiation therapy,” Foote said. “We want to try to figure out what patients benefit, and where is it cost-effective.”


Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

  • related content

  • Video: How it works: Mayo's proton beam therapy

    Tuesday March 18, 2014

    This animation show how Mayo's proton beam therapy center works - it's the size of a football field and...

  • Michael Herman of the Mayo Clinic’s medical physics division showed off on Tuesday the new proton beam therapy center in Rochester.

  • Herman stood in one of four treatment rooms, where a 120-ton gantry receives the proton beam and directs it toward the patient.

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