Proton Therapy for Lung Cancer
Is proton radiation used for lung cancer treatment? Will my insurance pay for it?
Charles B. Simone, II, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:
Proton radiation therapy is a relatively newly utilized type of radiation therapy that has the potential to decrease the radiation dose to normal tissues that are next to the tumor. Currently, there are only 10 centers in the United States that offer proton radiation therapy. Because the tumor continuously moves as a patient breathes during radiation therapy, tumor movement must be accounted for when treating with any kind of radiation therapy. With proton radiation therapy, however, accounting for this movement is technically more difficult. Several proton centers have begun to treat lung cancer with proton therapy, and this can allow for lower doses of irradiation to normal tissues, with potentially fewer side effects, and better local control. Proton therapy may also more safely allow radiation therapy to be combined with chemotherapy and/or surgery for patients who would most benefit from multi-modality therapy. Not all insurances cover proton therapy, but many do if it is shown in your specific case to deliver a better radiation plan than conventional radiation therapy. Please contact your insurance company or ask your healthcare provider for more details on your insurance coverage.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Lung Cancer transcript.