Proton Cancer Therapy for Reducing Long-Term Costs


Beaumont Health’s Proton Therapy Center celebrated its first anniversary, opened back on 28th June 2017. Its success is accentuated by it treating 107 patients, far more than expected. The machine they used, ProteusOne, helped the doctors treat and configure multiple forms of cancers. Cancers related to head and neck were treated more, as compared to gynecology and lymphoma treatments. As heart doses with protons are lesser than the x-rays, proton therapy served more beneficial for heart-related cancer.

Now, the competition of proton cancer therapy center is on the rise in Michigan, as McLaren Health Care Corp. Proton Beam Center is expected to open this fall. It was completed two years before Beaumont but the bankruptcy of the company McLaren was associated with, caused its delay. Lane, McLaren’s chief administrative officer, claims to have a good team now regardless of the delay, equipped with a Radiance 330 synchrotron made in Russia, use of pencil beam scanning and independent cone beam CT imaging system, helping in visualizing and controlling proton beam.

According to MedPAC report, proton therapy is called as “low-value care” because Medicare’s payment rates are comparatively very high in contrast to other types of radiation therapy. It further contended that the use of proton beam therapy extended to common conditions such as prostate and lung cancer is of lesser clinical advantage than the alternative treatments.

Craig Stevens, Beaumont’s Chairman of Oncology Department, denies MedPAC claims, asserting that the cancer treatments proven more clinically effective than traditional radiation therapy are conducted. Beaumont’s ProteusOne can provide three times as many proton doses to the tumors and not harm the healthy tissue with up to 2 millimeters accuracy. Steven said that as lesser dose is better than more dose, thus MedPAC report was faulty as it didn’t acknowledge radiation dosage. In case of breast cancer, a dose lower than 70% to the heart is considered great and Beaumont successfully came up with it. The treatment can be more costly and complicated but it lowers long-term costs. Its cure rates for cancers like adult brain and spinal tumors and pediatric cancers are substantially high. As for prostate, liver and lung cancers, PBT is comparable to alternative treatments.

However, McLaren plans to offer treatments for certain solid tumors types in head and neck and prostate cancer with PBT. Later on, breast and lung cancers will be included. Lower long-term costs, is what the cancer patients look forward to and thankfully now it is available.