MR-Linac Radiation Therapy
MR-Linac Radiation Therapy is a new technology where an MRI scanner is fused to the linear accelerator. This allows constant, real-time imaging without delivering additional radiation so we can turn the radiation beam on and off as the tumor moves to and from a sensitive structure. Daily imaging reveals changes in location, size and shape of the target, and if deemed significant enough that the current radiation plan could injure the surrounding normal tissues, adaptive planning can be done on the fly where dose distributions are recalculated. With less normal tissue in the beam, we can more safely escalate the daily dose and shorten the overall time of treatment.
For example, for specific tumor types such as non-metastatic pancreatic, liver, and prostate cancer, it is extremely important to track the internal movement happening during your cancer treatment. Unlike standard radiation care, the MR-Linac allows your doctor to track, and dose, your tumor in real time, greatly decreasing the amount of radiation to healthy tissue and organs. This means your tumor can receive a stronger cancer destroying radiation treatment, while at the same time decreasing the negative side effects.
Starting in February 2020, The Oregon Clinic radiation oncologists will be the first clinic in the Pacific Northwest to use this new technology. We will also be able to offer prostate stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), which will shorten the overall time from the conventional 7-8 weeks to one week.
Preparing for your treatment
- We start with a planning appointment which may include pre-treatment scans and fitting you with accessories that help you lay in a more comfortable and consistent position for each visit.
- Using your pre-treatment scans, your doctor will create a personalized plan and schedule you for your first treatment session.
Your personalized treatment plan
- At the beginning of every treatment session we will help you get into the correct position. Next, we will take an MRI scan. The new scan will be compared to the original scan, so your plan can be adjusted for best possible treatment.
- During treatment you will be fitted with special headphones to protect your hearing from the MR-Linac noise. These headphones not only protect your ears, but they also act as an intercom to keep you in contact with your doctor in the next room.
- The radiation and MRI machines work together in real time so the radiation beams are shaped to maximize the dose to your tumor and minimize the dose to your surrounding organs.
- While the radiation beam is on, the MR-Linac is constantly capturing images of your surrounding organs. If your tumor or surrounding organs move past the area allowed by your doctor the radiation beam automatically pauses. When the target moves back into the allowed area the radiation beam automatically turns back on. This allows you to get the best amount of radiation to the correct location.
What to expect with MR-Linac
- Every patient will have a different treatment plan, but the length of treatment sessions are usually thirty minutes to three hours, given three to five times a week, over a week or two week long course.
When can I resume normal activities?
- Talk with your doctor regarding your specific treatment plan and activities.