Proton therapy is in growth mode worldwide because of the rise in cancer and protons’ effectiveness in treating it.
Today there are 15 proton therapy centers in the U.S. and 57 centers worldwide with 141 total treatment rooms. By 2018, based on current plans, there will be 119 proton therapy centers around the world.
By 2019, the proton therapy market is expected to reach the $1 billion mark.
In 2012, approximately 14 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed, and there were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths. That number is expected to increase by 70 percent in the next 20 years, according to the World Health Organization.
Radiation therapy is effective in destroying most cancers but can result in serious side effects and long-term health issues due to the healthy tissue it also affects. Unlike conventional radiation, proton therapy provides a carefully timed and controlled dose of radiation directly to the tumor. This significantly reduces the levels of radiation exposure to surrounding tissue, sparing key organs and resulting in many fewer side effects—both during treatment and long-term—and less risk of secondary cancer due to radiation damage.
Today, proton therapy is available to just 1 percent of the population with about 14,500 patients treated in 2014, according to the “Proton Therapy World Market Report,” produced by MEDraysintell, a market research firm.
By 2030, the world market for proton therapy is expected to be between $3.5 billion and $6.6 billion and an anticipated 300,000-600,000 patients will receive treatment, the report said.
As a relatively new treatment modality, proton therapy’s growth has progressed slowly since the first U.S. center was opened in 1990. The equipment needed to generate and deliver protons for treatment has, historically, been expensive and cumbersome to transport and install. Although Medicare allows proton therapy for many cancer indications, many private insurers do not. And recent decades have been spent gathering data to support protons’ efficacy in treating most types of cancers.
A new generation of smaller, lighter proton therapy equipment—such as a system now in development at ProNova Solutions, Provision Healthcare’s sister company—along with improved efficiency and the ability to deliver therapy in less individual treatments will reduce the cost of proton therapy and make it more available to patients.
Additionally, mounting evidence of proton therapy’s effectiveness in curing most types of cancer and improving quality of life for cancer patients has resulted in helping the technology finally come into its own, according to MEDraysintell.
For example, one report from the nation’s oldest proton therapy center has shown that less than 1 percent of men treated with proton therapy for prostate cancer suffered from major rectal and urinary side effects.
“The absence of such risks associated with other radiation treatments or surgery is a major driving factor driving the demand for proton therapy among patients,” state another marketplace report focused on proton therapy, recently released by Kuick Research.
More proton therapy centers, in turn, will result in more clinical research, better clinician understanding and greater patient awareness of its benefits—which will only help encourage further growth.