Clinical Technology

A comprehensive white paper on technology trends explains how and why proton therapy is gaining increasing importance as a cancer treatment option. Part II puts the current price tag difference compared to traditional photon therapy in perspective.

Today, proton therapy reaches only a fraction of the patients it could benefit. IBA continues its research and development to find new approaches and breakthroughs with the purpose of making proton therapyavailable at a lower cost and thus broaden its’ scope.

Expand the market According to a Dutch study, 16% of cancer patients would benefit from proton therapy, while the percentage of patients being treated with proton therapy today is less than 0.8%. This makes it a technology in its infancy for which it is difficult to make any predictions when it comes to timing or the potential to increase the number of installations and lower the price.

Reduce the price tag It’s important to keep in mind that in conventional radiation therapy, the depreciation of the equipment represents only 5% of the total cost of treatment. In conventional radiation therapy, the largest part of the cost of the treatment is manpower: the large team of medical doctors, physicists, therapists and nurses needed to run a radiation therapy department.

This is why even if the cost of one proton therapy room is about ten times as expensive as a linac system, the total treatment cost is only twice as expensive. Even if there is no way found to offer proton therapy at the same price as photon therapy, the gap can be significantly reduced.

“I have good hopes we can eventually bring the cost per proton therapy room down to double the price of a photon linac installation based on our curve of experience and improved design, but it is as yet very difficult to put an exact timeframe on this. It will depend largely on the continuous support and rising demand we receive from the major players and pioneer institutions in the medical field,” says Yves Jongen. “At this point, not everyone fully realizes the potential of proton therapy, so any predictions regarding the market evolution are still very vague. Technological evolutions and clinical proof will bring more clarity.”

Read the complete white paper on technology trends (


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