Because of limited evidence, it’s not possible to determine conclusions about the comparative safety and effectiveness of particle beam radiation therapy, says a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Effectiveness of particle-beam therapy hard to measure, AHRQ study says
The therapy, referred to as PBRT, is used as an alternative to other types of radiation therapy for treating cancer. According to AHRQ, more than 60,000 people worldwide have been treated with PBRT since the 1970s, and there are at least 30 operating PBRT facilities in the world, including seven in the U.S. The current cost of building a standard PBRT facility in the U.S. is, on average, about $175 million. And earlier this year, the not-for-profit ECRI Institute included proton centers on its list of 10 technologies and devices to watch for 2009 and in the future.
But while the AHRQ report says PBRT can deliver higher radiation doses to cancer cells with less exposure to surrounding tissues than conventional photon beam radiation, the study says it is not known whether the higher precision of PBRT actually translates to better clinical outcomes. Meanwhile, the report said, the potential disadvantages to this treatment include its high cost and limited availability.
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