Proton beam therapy, the most common form of heavy-particle radiation therapy, is not a new invention, but it has gained considerable public attention because of the high cost of installing and operating the rapidly increasing number of treatment centers. This article reviews the physical properties of proton beam therapy and focuses on the up-to-date clinical evidence comparing proton beam therapy with the more standard and widely available radiation therapy treatment alternatives. In a cost-conscious era of health care, the hypothetical benefits of proton beam therapy will have to be supported by demonstrable clinical gains. Proton beam therapy represents, through its scale and its cost, a battleground for the policy debate around managing expensive technology in modern medicine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research