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How Radio Therapy Is Impacting Cancer Treatment

Today’s oncologists have a variety of treatment modalities to best address the specifics needs of individual cases. This year’s ASTRO (American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology) Annual Meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center featured a broad array of those technologies for the treatment of cancer.

Traditional linac machines were on display from several suppliers, as well as machinery and equipment built to deliver different types of radiation therapies, including:

  • MR image-guided linac therapy
  • Electron beam Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)
  • Superficial radiation therapy (SRT)
  • Boron neutron capture therapy (BCNT)
  • Tomotherapy
  • Proton Therapy

Of these different technologies, I was least familiar with BCNT.

BCNT is a unique therapy in which a patent is injected with a drug containing Boron-10 which essentially seeks out the tumor. The patient is then exposed to low-energy neutrons, which are created using a particle accelerator impacting a target. Many of these neutrons are absorbed by the Boron-10 due to its nuclear cross section. This initiates the creation of high energy charged particles that can destroy the tumor and minimize the damage to nearby healthy tissue.

I was able to talk to several people at ASTRO about trends in the quickly growing proton therapy market, as several proton therapy equipment manufacturers were represented at the show. This industry has been addressing the high costs of these systems by continuing to shrink their size and weight. Although still significantly larger and more expensive than linac machines, they have been making great strides over the last several years.

Most of these companies now offer a single treatment room system. These single-room systems have been able them to offer proton therapy at a price point that is opening up the market to hospitals that would not otherwise be able to afford large, multi-room systems.

I found the electron beam IORT equipment very interesting as well. Because of the nature of the radiation being generated, the machinery can be self-shielded and does not require a vault or any other costly facilities retrofits.

The exhibition was a great opportunity to learn about all the latest treatment modalities and equipment. The technology on display at the ASTRO exhibition was very impressive. While cancer is a very difficult adversary, and takes on a myriad of forms, it’s reassuring to see the continued progress in equipment, software and techniques being developed to defeat it.

As a contract manufacturer for radio therapy equipment, we understand the unique specifications necessary for this type of equipment. Contact us today to find out more.

-Barnaby Keller, Vice President – Business Development

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