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Number of patients getting RT on the rise

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | October 28, 2010
The number of patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancer has been increasing an average of 7 percent per year, according to a recent study from market research firm IMV, with one-third of therapy sites looking to buy new equipment.

The 180-page report, based on IMV's 2010/11 Radiation Therapy Census Database, sketches a picture of an industry undergoing solid growth.

According to the report, dubbed the 2010 Radiation Therapy Market Summary Report, 1.1 million cancer patients underwent radiation therapy at 2,170 locations around the country in 2009, mostly for breast, lung or prostate cancer. This represents a 15 percent increase from the 954,000 patients who had the treatment two years earlier, IMV said.

Other shifts are underway, too: in 2004, only one-seventh of radiotherapy sites offered image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), according to the report. Now, around two-thirds of treatment centers do, either through a dedicated system or with electronic portal imaging, ultrasound, X-rays or CT.

For treatment plans, nearly all rely on CT scans - 98 percent - with MRI used in 12 percent and PET in 8 percent, according to Lorna Young, senior director of market research for IMV. More than half of surveyed sites had upgraded their treatment planning systems, mostly between 2008 and 2009, the report said.

But more purchases are on the way, according to IMV. Over the next three years, around one-third of centers are looking to buy replacement or additional linear accelerators and CyberKnife, Gamma Knife and TomoTherapy technology, the report said.

As for IT, nine out of 10 sites have some sort of oncology information or "record and verify" system installed, with two-thirds having these linked up with electronic medical records.