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Accuray: Tightly Targeting Tumors

Executive Summary

While open surgery remains the traditional primary treatment option for solid tumors, ten years ago a procedure called frame-based radiosurgery was commercially introduced in the US to treat brain tumors. Radiosurgery uses an intense dose of high energy radiation to destroy a tumor with precise targeting in order to avoid damaging healthy tissue. This requires patients to have a stereotactic metal frame screwed into their skulls to accurately target the tumor. The frame also limits radiosurgery's applicability largely to intracranial tumors, which constitute only 10% of all solid tumors. Accuray has developed a frameless radiosurgery system, the CyberKnife, which has proven effective in treating head and neck tumors without the frame's discomfort, and is looking to expand its application to other body tumors. Having survived several rocky periods since its 1990 launch, Accuray must now show it can survive selling capital equipment, an area historically harsh on start-up companies, both in terms of competing against larger entrenched competitors and in convincing customers to acquire new costly systems.

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