Many have. There are 27 proton therapy centers now operating in the United States. Nearly as many are being built or planned. Georgetown’s, which vies for patients with a struggling unit in Baltimore, will soon compete with another in Washington and one in Northern Virginia.
But about 30 years after the Food and Drug Administration first approved proton therapy for limited uses, doctors often hesitate to prescribe it and insurers often will not cover it.
That means there simply may not be enough business to go around.
“The biggest problem these guys have is extra capacity,” said Dr. Peter Johnstone, the chief executive at Indiana University’s proton center before it closed in 2014, in need of an upgrade but lacking the potential patients to pay for it. “They don’t…