High cost of nuclear medicine weighed

December 26, 2007

U.S. advances in the use of nuclear accelerators to fight cancer are being tempered by concerns about the high cost of such equipment with uncertain benefits.

Scientists say the particle accelerators target cancer cells more accurately than X-rays, The New York Times reported Tuesday. But some experts say the rush to newer, more expensive technology -- which can cost more than $100 million a pop -- is what is pushing the high cost of healthcare in the United States, the Times said.

"I'm fascinated and horrified by the way it's developing," said Anthony L. Zietman, a radiation oncologist at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, which operates a proton center. "This is the dark side of American medicine."

Proponents say the accelerators will ultimately mean better treatment for cancer patients. More than 800,000 Americans undergo radiation therapy each year.

"Every X-ray beam I use puts most of the dose where I don't want it," said Dr. Jerry D. Slater, head of radiation medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California.

But opponents say the newest form of X-rays diminish any advantages from proton therapy.

"There are no solid clinical data that protons are better," said Dr. Theodore S. Lawrence, chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Physicist develops new diagnostic tools for cancer

Related Stories

Physicist develops new diagnostic tools for cancer

January 29, 2016

Cancer diagnosis has come a long way, with noninvasive diagnostic imaging largely replacing exploratory surgery. At UWM, physicist Sarah Patch is working on the next generation of diagnostic tools: thermoacoustic imaging.

Titan targets tumors

January 26, 2016

Since lasers were first produced in the early 1960s, researchers have worked to apply laser technology from welding metal to surgeries, with laser technology advancing quickly through the last 50 years.

New discovery could enable portable particle accelerators

November 5, 2015

Conventional particle accelerators are typically big machines that occupy a lot of space. Even at more modest energies, such as that used for cancer therapy and medical imaging, accelerators need large rooms to accommodate ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.