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Rad Oncology Homepage

Japanese startup to develop ultra-compact proton therapy system Designed to replace conventional radiotherapy systems

FDA okays Philips' MR-only radiotherapy simulator, MRCAT pelvis Create treatment plans for bladder, rectal, anal and cervical cancer

Varian to acquire Cancer Treatment Services International for $283 million Enables production of multidisciplinary solutions

Varian acquires CyberHeart, enters cardiac radioablation market Emerging technology could benefit treatment of irregular heartbeats

New 12-year study highlights value of PRRT, based on long-term outcomes Understanding peptide receptor radionuclide therapy

RefleXion Medical secures $60 million for approval and launch of BgRT system Can detect and treat multiple tumors in the same session

Korean cancer center aims to deploy heavy ion therapy in 2022 Plans also call for the onboarding of more CR and MR systems

Radiation oncologists appeal to Congress to safeguard radiotherapy treatment Protecting cancer patients' access to value-based care

Using ERISA to end proton therapy denials Insights from Timothy J. Rozelle and Lisa S. Kantor, from Kantor & Kantor, LLP on getting insurers to provide coverage

Philips unveils IntelliSpace Radiation Oncology system at ESTRO Manages complexity and efficiency of radiology departments

Precision-based medicine improves outcomes and drives down costs

From the June 2017 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

By Paul Crowe

As health care costs continue to skyrocket, oncologists are looking for ways to effectively treat their patients without the added burden of enormous medical bills.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. spends approximately $157 billion on cancer care per year. In 2014, spending on oncology medication surpassed $100 billion worldwide. As patients are footing the bill for more of their medical expenses, they are increasingly aware of these escalating costs. According to a survey by Premier, Inc., 56 percent of C-suite hospital executives plan to invest more in cost-cutting avenues to meet patient demand.

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Despite the exorbitant price tag, traditional cancer screenings and therapies are often ineffective or unnecessary. Cancer screenings may involve the potential for serious complications (perforation with colonoscopy) or result in false positives, which unnecessarily lead to anxiety and further invasive testing. Chemotherapy and radiation poison the body and may eventually lead to heart problems, lung disease and increased risk of other cancers, among other conditions. These treatments and diagnosis tools are decades old and do not utilize the significant genetic knowledge and data we have gathered in recent years. In effect, radiation and chemotherapy is a “throw everything against a wall and see what sticks solution,” rather than a personalized and targeted approach.

As patients demand less invasive and less costly diagnosis and treatment, innovators in the health care system are turning to precision-based medicine. By targeting the specific genetic abnormalities that cause cancer, precision medicine can diagnose and treat with much greater accuracy. In a study of juvenile brain cancer, researchers discovered that 56 percent of the tumors studied had genetic abnormalities that could influence how the disease was diagnosed or treated by drugs already in the market or in clinical trials. Research and testing using new technology have been successful in clinical feasibility studies reporting > 90 percent accuracy in diagnosing impacted males.

Unfortunately, the insurance industry has hesitated in covering some of the genetic tests available. This may be because precision medicine is often made from biological materials instead of synthesized chemicals, which makes it more expensive to initially develop. But, as precision medicine becomes part of the standard of care over the next five years, that is likely to change.
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