Estimating the number of patients eligible for carbon ion radiotherapy in the United States

Timothy D. Malouff, Laura A. Vallow, Danushka Seneviratne, Anita Mahajan, Robert L. Foote, Bradford Hoppe, Chris Beltran, Steven J. Buskirk, Sunil Krishnan, Daniel M. Trifiletti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Carbon ion radiotherapy (CIRT) is an emerging radiotherapy modality with potential advantages over conventional photon-based therapy, including exhibiting a Bragg peak and greater relative biological effectiveness, leading to a higher degree of cell kill. Currently, 13 centers are treating with CIRT, although there are no centers in the United States. We aimed to estimate the number of patients eligible for a CIRT center in the United States. Materials and Methods: Using the National Cancer Database, we analyzed the incidence of cancers frequently treated with CIRT internationally (glioblastoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, locally advanced pancreatic cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, localized prostate cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, and specific head and neck cancers) diagnosed in the United States in 2015. The percentage and number of patients likely benefiting from CIRT was estimated with inclusion criteria from clinical trials and retrospective studies, and that ratio was applied to 2019 cancer statistics. An adaption correction rate was applied to estimate the potential number of patients treated with CIRT. Given the high dependency on prostate and lung cancers and the uncertain adoption of CIRT in those diseases, the data were then reanalyzed excluding those diagnoses. Results: Of the 1 127 455 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2015, there were 213 073 patients (18.9%) eligible for treatment with CIRT based on inclusion criteria. When applying this rate and the adaption correction rate to the 2019 incidence data, an estimated 89 946 patients (42.2% of those fitting inclusion criteria) are eligible for CIRT. Excluding prostate and lung cancers, there were an estimated 8922 patients (10% of those eligible for CIRT) eligible for CIRT. The number of patients eligible for CIRT is estimated to increase by 25% to 27.7% by 2025. Conclusion: Our analysis suggests a need for CIRT in the United States in 2019, with the number of patients possibly eligible to receive CIRT expected to increase during the coming 5 to 10 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Particle Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Carbon
  • Hadron
  • Heavy
  • US

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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