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Blue Shield Won't Pay For Proton Cancer Treatment

Proton machines, like the one above, that can carefully target tumors hold promise for prostate cancer patients. But the therapy can be quite expensive.
Rebecca Davis
Proton machines, like the one above, that can carefully target tumors hold promise for prostate cancer patients. But the therapy can be quite expensive.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A major California health insurer says it won't pay for an expensive cancer treatment because there's no science to justify the price.

The Los Angeles Times says beginning in October, Blue Shield of California won't cover proton beam treatment for early-stage prostate cancer.

Blue Shield will continue to pay for the proton treatment of certain tumors in children.

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The therapy can attack cancer cells and spare healthy tissue but many studies have found it's no more effective than older and cheaper alternatives.

Blue Shield says there's no justification for spending an additional $30,000 on the treatment.

Hospitals have rushing to build the proton facilities, with nearly 20 planned in cities nationwide. Currently only one exists in California -- at Loma Linda University Medical Center near San Bernardino.

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