From the March 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Lionel Bouchet
Technological evolutions in radiation oncology have enabled sharper, faster, and more precise treatments than ever before.
Over the past twenty-five years, proton therapy has evolved to produce outstanding results as a superior radiation therapy treatment modality for a rapidly increasing patient population.
Even though large educational institutions and private physician practices have seen worldwide operational success and financially stable business models, there remains a culture of caution for many considering their own proton center. Historically, proton systems have been giant multi-rooms with hefty costs, technology obsolescence concerns, and complicated logistical challenges. In the last fifteen years, innovative changes in technology have made proton therapy's future bright, exciting, and most importantly, accessible.
The age of compact proton therapy
When proton therapy centers were first established, associated costs such as the accelerator, beamline, and construction meant committing to three, four, or even five rooms to make financial sense. Today, compact proton systems are smaller, more affordable versions that provide the same precise, noninvasive treatment advantages as complex centers with large proton accelerators at a fraction of the cost.
A critical component of proton therapy adoption is risk mitigation. In addition to the financial burden of a traditional multi-room system, it puts significant pressure on an organization to treat patients at a substantial volume. Like a conventional linear accelerator, compact proton therapy can be integrated into existing practices at a much lower cost. Proton therapy can become a powerful addition to preexisting services for well-established providers or for smaller groups seeking to provide the best care for their patients.
Compact systems provide affordable options and allow ramp-up flexibility for staff and patients, offering attainable, financially viable, and impactful solutions delivering the most effective treatment. Future developments in system technology may further reduce system size, cost, and financial risk associated with proton therapy.
Advancing clinical adoption
With its unique Bragg peak, proton therapy can deliver the highest quality treatment. The clinical benefits of proton therapy apply to many patients and cancer types, causing reduced side effects in most patients. MLC IMPT, SBRT, ARC, and FLASH are just some of the emerging technologies that we are actively investigating to continue increasing the benefits of proton therapy.