Editor's Choice

Don’t beam me up just yet

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2805 (Published 19 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2805
  1. Trevor Jackson, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tjackson{at}bmj.com

Proton beam therapy might once have seemed like the magic bullet to zap cancer, the state of the art treatment we have all been waiting for. The technology is big and expensive—the world’s “most costly and complicated medical devices,” according to one description cited by Keith Epstein in this week’s cover article (doi:10.1136/bmj.e2488)—and looks and sounds as if a Star Trek scriptwriter might have dreamt it up. As Epstein writes, “by accelerating subatomic particles towards the speed of light and concentrating them in a beam, proton treatment is thought to target cancerous tissue more precisely.”

England’s health secretary, Andrew Lansley, clearly believes it represents the future of cancer services—his …

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