Proton Beam Therapy Poised for Growth in US
Fueled by patient demand and advances in technology, the construction of costly proton beam centers is picking up steam. Insurers are paying for limited applications.
Scripps Proton Therapy Center
With several countries charging ahead in efforts to build proton beam therapy centers for cancer radiation treatment, American healthcare providers and their partners appear poised to advance the technology beyond its infancy in this country.
"It's one of the areas where the U.S. is behind," says Jason Caron, a partner at Chicago-based law firm McDermott, Will and Emery, who has worked on proton beam therapy center projects for more than eight years. He noted that Japan is considered a leader in the field, with a dozen advanced particle beam radiation centers, including four centers using the most cutting-edge technology, carbon ion beams.
So far, 14 proton beam therapy centers have been built in the United States and a dozen more are in development, according to the Silver Spring, MD-based National Association for Proton Therapy. Most of the U.S. facilities have multiple examination rooms, which are built inside giant vaults that keep protons from escaping and causing harm to caregivers and others who work or live near the facilities.
Proton beam centers have a staggering capital cost. In February, the Scripps Proton Therapy Center opened in San Diego with a $220 million price tag, according to the project's developer, San Diego-based Advanced Particle Therapy.