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Study Finds Expensive Prostate Cancer Treatment As Effective As Cheaper Methods

A new study is claiming that an expensive, high-tech treatment for prostate cancer is no more effective than other options. The study examined treatment records for men who received proton beam radiation treatment compared to other therapies. The results indicated that the treatment was no more effective at stopping the cancer than the other methods examined, but did leave men at a higher risk for stomach-related side effects. One round of proton beam radiation can cost insurers $100,000, while the more-commonly used intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) costs about half that amount. According to researchers, those technologies have driven up the cost of treating prostate cancer by hundreds of millions of dollars. ThinkProgress reported in January that the Mayo Clinic had spend $360 million to build two proton beam facilities but did not cite any medical evidence to support the procedure’s effectiveness. Earlier this month, nine medical boards recommended that certain tests be used less often in an effort to rein in medical spending.

-Zachary Bernstein

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