Survey: Extracranial radiosurgery not yet in wide use

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Accuray Incorporated released results from an independent survey which concluded that hospitals with combined radiotherapy and radiosurgery systems, also known as all-purpose units, are rarely utilizing the extracranial radiosurgery capabilities.  The survey, which included more than 1,600 hospitals and radiation oncology facilities, shows that for 88 percent of the all-purpose systems in use today, less than 10 percent of the procedures were extracranial radiosurgery. The survey, conducted by research firm Dominic & Irvine last year, also found that Accuray’s CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is the only extracranial radiosurgery device being widely used.

In the past, radiosurgical accuracy was achieved using an invasive device, known as a stereotactic frame, to hold the head still by screwing a metal frame into the patient’s skull. Use of this invasive frame limited radiosurgery to intracranial treatments (treatments of tumors inside the head). The CyberKnife System achieves the same accuracy as frame-based radiosurgery, but uses image guided robotics to avoid the need for a frame. This approach is less invasive for intracranial treatments and has also made extracranial radiosurgery possible, Accuray said.

According to American Cancer Society’s estimates, of the 1.4 million cancer cases that are expected to be diagnosed this year in the United States, a large percentage are candidates for radiosurgery. But the study shows that healthcare facilities are not capitalizing on the opportunity to provide extracranial radiosurgical treatment to a large number of these patients.

According to Accuray, evidence shows that hospitals that have supplemented their radiotherapy or all-purpose units with a dedicated robotic radiosurgery system, such as the CyberKnife System, have nearly doubled the number of cancer patients treated.

The Dominic & Irvine survey evaluated 1,600 sites by telephone between February and June of 2006 to determine technology usage and treatments within their radiation oncology programs.