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Blue Shield won't pay for proton prostate cancer treatment

August 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Blue Shield says it won't pay for an expensive prostate cancer treatment because there's no science to justify the hefty price.

Blue Shield announced it will not pay for proton beam treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. The therapy attacks cancer cells only, but many studies have found it's not more effective than earlier, cheaper alternatives.

Blue Shield says there's no reason to spend the additional $30,000.

The only existing proton facility in California is at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Hospitals have rushing to build the proton facilities, with nearly 20 planned in cities nationwide.

Blue Shield say it will continue to pay for proton treatment for certain tumors in children.

The company released a statement: "Blue Shield is modifying its medical policy on proton beam therapy effective 28, 2013, after which date Blue Shield generally will not cover proton beam therapy for the treatment of clinically localized prostate. Instead, we will provide benefits when medically necessary for Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) or 3D-Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT) for the treatment of this condition."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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