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Cancer. 2016 May 15;122(10):1483-501. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29882. Epub 2016 Feb 1.

A systematic review of the cost and cost-effectiveness studies of proton radiotherapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland.



Economic analyses of new technologies, such as proton-beam radiotherapy (PBT), are a public health priority. To date, no systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of PBT has been performed.


Systematic searches of PubMed, EMBASE, abstracts from American Society for Radiation Oncology and American Society of Clinical Oncology meetings, and the Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry were conducted (2000-2015) along with abstracts from the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group of North America for both years of existence (2014-2015). Eighteen original investigations were analyzed.


The cost-effectiveness for prostate cancer-the single most common diagnosis currently treated with PBT-was suboptimal. PBT was the most cost-effective option for several pediatric brain tumors. PBT costs for breast cancer were increased but were favorable for appropriately selected patients with left-sided cancers at high risk of cardiac toxicity and compared with brachytherapy for accelerated partial breast irradiation. For non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the greatest cost-effectiveness benefits using PBT were observed for locoregionally advanced-but not early stage-tumors. PBT offered superior cost-effectiveness in selected head/neck cancer patients at higher risk of acute mucosal toxicities. Similar cost-effectiveness was observed for PBT, enucleation, and plaque brachytherapy in patients with uveal melanoma.


With greatly limited amounts of data, PBT offers promising cost-effectiveness for pediatric brain tumors, well-selected breast cancers, locoregionally advanced NSCLC, and high-risk head/neck cancers. Heretofore, it has not been demonstrated that PBT is cost-effective for prostate cancer or early stage NSCLC. Careful patient selection is absolutely critical to assess cost-effectiveness. Together with increasing PBT availability, clinical trial evidence, and ongoing major technological improvements, cost-effectiveness data and conclusions from this analysis could change rapidly. Cancer 2016;122:1483-501. © 2016 American Cancer Society.


cost-effectiveness; health care economics; operational costs; proton radiation therapy

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