September 23, 2013
Proton Therapy Is A Cost-Effective Treatment For Pediatric Brain Tumor Patients
Due to decreased side effects, it may also be cost-saving
Proton therapy, an external beam radiotherapy in which protons deliver precise radiation doses to a tumor and spare healthy organs and tissues, is cost-effective in treating medulloblastomas, fast-growing brain tumors that mainly affect children, when compared to standard photon radiation therapy, according to research presented today at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO’s) 55th Annual Meeting.
The clinical benefits of proton therapy have been recognized in reducing side effects when compared to photon therapy, but the significant expense of building and maintaining proton facilities and the high treatment costs have been areas of concern. The study’s results demonstrate that by avoiding years of costly side effects, proton therapy can be cost-effective for children with medulloblastoma. Using current risk estimates and data on required capital investments, proton therapy for pediatric medulloblastoma treatment was not only cost-effective compared to standard photon radiation, but also found to be cost-saving in many simulations.
Results from the base case analysis showed that due to the prevention of side effects, proton therapy was cost-saving. In sensitivity analyses, proton therapy strongly remained the more appealing treatment, in part due to decreased risks of hearing loss, secondary malignancy and heart failure, resulting in cost-savings in more than 95 percent of simulations.
“We believed that proton therapy might prove to be cost-effective in treating pediatric brain tumors, and we were intrigued that it also proved to be cost-saving in the base case and in almost all of the sensitivity analysis simulations,” said Raymond Mailhot Vega, MD, MPH, the presenting author of the study; a resident at Mount Auburn Hospital, the teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School; and a 2014 radiation oncology resident at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “Proton therapy might prove to be both cost-effective and cost-saving for other malignancies, too, and consequently, more cancer patients may benefit from proton therapy.”
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