IMV: U.S. radiation therapy growth soars to 15%

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Clarity image-guided radiation therapy for patient. Image source: Resonant Medical/Elekta

An estimated 1.1 million patients were treated in 2009 with radiation at 2,170 radiation therapy locations in the U.S., which represents a 15 percent increase from just more than 954,000 patients, for an annual average increase of about 7 percent compared with 2007, according to research published by IMV Medical Information Division.

The top three cancer site types treated with radiation are breast, prostate and lung cancer, which account for 24 percent, 20 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

“Digital imaging has become integrated into treatment planning, simulation, and to guide tumor treatment real-time,” said Lorna Young, senior director of IMV’s market research division. “Regarding treatment planning, nearly all (98 percent) of the radiation therapy treatment plans use CT images, 12 percent use MRI and 8 percent use PET images.

“Concurrently, the use of CT for simulation has displaced x-ray simulators, with two-thirds of the current simulator installed base being CT simulators, whereas x-ray simulators comprised two-thirds of the simulator installed base in 2003,” Young said. “Relative to image guidance, over two-thirds of the radiation therapy sites provide treatments using image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), up from 15 percent of the sites in 2004, using either a dedicated IGRT system or electronic portal imaging, ultrasound, x-ray or CT as their primary guidance device.”

The IMV report also found:

  • More than one-third of the radiation therapy sites are planning to purchase external beam therapy units as replacement or additional units over the next three years, including linear accelerators, CyberKnife (Accuray), Gamma Knife (Elekta) and TomoTherapy technology.
  • Of the treatment planning systems installed, over half of the hardware or server technology has been upgraded, with the majority of the upgrades taking place in 2008 and 2009.
  • Eighty-nine percent of the radiation therapy sites have “record and verify” and/or oncology information systems installed.
  • Two-thirds of the oncology information systems are interfaced with an EMR system, and 85 percent have digital images available on their system.

The data source for this report is IMV’s 2010/11 Radiation Therapy Census Database, which provides profiles of radiation therapy sites in the U.S.