Radiotherapy Market: Opportunities and Challenges

Radiotherapy Market: Opportunities and Challenges

Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (US), Elekta AB (Sweden), and Accuray Incorporated (US) dominated the radiotherapy market.
The growing incidence of cancer and approval of different technologies for various radiotherapy applications are boosting the adoption of radiotherapy procedures, globally.

The radiotherapy market is projected to grow from an estimated USD 5.6 billion in 2018 to USD 6.8 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 4.1% during the forecast period.

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Growing investments to meet increasing demand for cancer treatment

Radiotherapy has been accepted as the standard procedure for cancer treatment. The growing incidence of cancer and approval of different technologies for various radiotherapy applications are boosting the adoption of radiotherapy procedures, globally. This is encouraging public organizations and private institutes to make investments for acquiring new and advanced radiotherapy technologies. Some instances demonstrating the need for investments in order to meet the increasing demand for radiotherapy products are listed below:

  In October 2016, NHS England announced an investment of EUR 130 million in new radiotherapy machines (Source: Cancer Research UK).

  According to the American Cancer Society, by 2050, there will be 17.5 million cancer deaths and 27 million new cancer cases per year. Currently, for every million people, there are almost 12 LINAC systems in the U.S., five to eight radiotherapy machines in the European countries, and less than one machine in the developing countries across Asia, Latin America, and Africa. In order to bridge this gap, over 10,000 additional treatment machines are required, globally (Source: Cancer Control).

  In October 2016, the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) made India’s largest public investment in the health sector by acquiring seven Versa HD LINAC systems and six microSelectron brachytherapy systems from Elekta AB (Sweden).

A study published in The Lancet Oncology in September 2015 revealed that an investment of USD 97–184 billion will be required to make radiotherapy accessible to most patients, by 2035. Such an investment would in turn yield economic benefits of USD 278 to USD 365 billion through higher productivity and healthcare savings.

Difficulties in visualizing tumors during radiotherapy procedures

One of the major challenges faced during radiotherapy procedures is the lack of clear visualization of tumors and its demarcation from normal healthy tissue. Advancements in medical imaging in the field of ionizing radiation therapy for cancer treatment are expected to help overcome this challenge. However, since tumors have the ability to change their shape on a daily basis, it becomes highly difficult to radiate only the cancerous outgrowth without affecting the surrounding tissues. In order to limit this, radiologists include a safety margin around the tumor. Also, to minimize the damage to the surrounding healthy tissue, it becomes necessary to limit the radiotherapy dose range, which in turn increases the number of treatment cycles needed to eradicate tumorous cells. This is one of the major factors responsible for the higher cancer treatment costs for patients undergoing radiotherapy. Moreover, despite technological advancements in imaging techniques, detecting tumor progression still remains a clinical challenge. As a result of these challenges, alternative treatment technologies such as chemotherapy and conventional surgical procedures are preferred by oncologists.

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In order to avoid damage to the surrounding tissues, manufacturers are continuously focusing on developing advanced technologies with a precise narrow tumor-specific window of radiation and better imaging techniques. This will help reduce the safety margins and increase the dose per session, which in turn will lead to fewer patient visits to the hospital (thereby, reducing the treatment time and costs).

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