Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy especially for cancer patients with significant advantages over conventional radiation therapy in terms of efficacy and unwanted side effects. In proton therapy a beam of protons is irradiated to diseased tissue with the help of a particle accelerator. These protons cause damage to targeted cells by interfering with their genetic functions. Protons, due to their large mass do not scatter side and are more precisely localized to targeted tissue allowing significantly less damage to adjacent cells. According to The National Association for Proton Therapy, there are 10 to 12 centers providing proton therapy treatment across United States including UC Davis Crocker Lab, Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and 8 new centers are in development. Proton Treatment Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center was the first facility to treat its patient with proton therapy in 1990. Since then the world has witnessed a massive growth taking place in the development of other centers across the globe. Today, other centers are operating in countries such as Sweden, Japan, Canada, China, Germany and France. In coming years few more centers are about to be established in countries such as Poland, Austria, Hungary, Russia and Australia.
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Till now more than 80,000 patients suffering from a variety of cancer diseases such as prostate cancer and brain tumor have been treated with proton therapy and the demand is expected to grow further as more medical professionals and patients learn about the benefits of this therapy. Geographically, North America and Europe are the largest market as majority of the centers enabling proton therapy treatment are located in these regions. In Asia Pacific, the market is predicted to grow with the opening of new centers in Australia and under the influence of increasing awareness about the benefits of this advanced treatment. The high cost of therapy is one of the major challenges to growth of this market. This has cascaded down to reimbursement as insurers currently refuse to compensate for such highly expensive procedures.
There are very few companies engaged in the development and manufacturing of cyclotrons, synchrotrons and other equipments required by proton therapy centers. Ion Beam Applications, S.A., a German company dominates the market with a market share accounting for more than 55%. Other players include Hitachi, Fermilab Scientists and Varian Medical Systems.
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