Radiation oncology facilities in the United States should think carefully about what happens to their used equipment. Much of this equipment is being destroyed and scrapped unnecessarily, and it’s imperative that it not go to waste. Used linear accelerators are in high demand in developing markets, and what we do in the United States has consequences around the world.
This newly installed, refurbished linear accelerator system will help thousands of needy cancer patients in a country that is plagued with crisis. Without it, many cancer patients would go without desperately needed treatments.
The very first Varian Edge Radiotherapy System has been offered in the secondary (used equipment) market. Rarely does radiation therapy equipment this new enter the secondary market, and those ready to make a purchase often capture thousands, or even millions of dollars in savings.
The Varian Edge is a medical linear accelerator machine used for stereotactic radiosurgery (“SRS”), which involves the treatment of tumors in the head, neck and brain. First introduced in 2016, the Edge is considered one of the latest, cutting edge machines in radiation therapy from Varian Medical Systems.
When it comes to removing and installing linear accelerators, speed is of utmost importance. A linear accelerator replacement is a huge logistical undertaking that can cause a lot of stress for both doctors and patients in radiation oncology centers. The physical process, from start to finish, can take as long as six weeks. While this may not have a huge impact on a hospital or larger facility that has multiple machines, for a smaller, free-standing clinic that is replacing its only machine, the effect it has on revenue and treatment schedules can be very severe. Doctors have to refer their patients out until the new machine is ready, which can potentially lead to loss of revenue for the facility and potentially harmful inconvenience for the patient.
What happens to pre-owned Linear Accelerators?
In one week, a new radiation oncology clinic in Bolivia will begin using its new linear accelerator (Varian 6EX) to treat cancer patients, giving millions of people in need access to modern and lifesaving technology. This clinic is only one of six in the entire nation of 11 million people, and it will begin operations due to its partnership with R.O.S.!
Bolivia is a country in desperate need of better and more widespread cancer treatment. In a comprehensive study of cancer in Latin America done by The Economist, Bolivia scored the lowest on their Cancer Control scorecard (which serves as a metric of comparison regarding the control and access to cancer treatment). The country scored a 7 out of 30. In fact, access to cancer treatment is so poor in Bolivia, that the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association), has instituted an official project to improve Bolivian cancer treatment and prevention efforts.
When buying a used or refurbished linear accelerator, how important are the HV hours, also known as “beam hours?”
Beam hours for linear accelerator are like the mileage on a car. They reflect the amount of time that beam has been on, and therefore are a good indication of the “wear and tear” on a particular machine.
Generally speaking, machines with higher beam hours will sell for less than those with lower beam hours, all other things being equal. Of course, there are dozens of other variables that influence the price of a linear accelerator, like the age, technologies and upgrades.
Adding or updating your facility’s linear accelerator (linac) is a decision with budgetary, space, and personnel impacts. In the following paragraphs, we hope to help you in your buying decision by explaining when it is better to seek a new linac and not a used model.