In a single, powerful device, the MRI-linac integrates a high-strength magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine with a linear accelerator. These two important instruments, which have been used separately in cancer treatment for many years, can now be used simultaneously to achieve heightened precision. As the MRI machine produces high-definition, diagnostic-quality images of a tumor in real time, the linear accelerator can maintain a sharp focus on the tumor while targeting it with high-energy beams. As such, the MRI-linac facilitates an unprecedented level of accuracy in the delivery of radiation treatment.
Why does a tumor need to be tracked in real time?
As the patient naturally breathes in and out during radiation therapy, a tumor can potentially shift in position – sometimes by as much as an inch or more. This movement can make it difficult to keep the radiation beams precisely focused on the tumor throughout the treatment session. Prior to the development of MRI-linac, it was necessary for a radiation oncologist to treat the entire area in which the tumor might travel during the patient’s normal breathing cycle.
The MRI-linac monitors the movement of a tumor in real time and continually adjusts the radiation delivery to compensate for any shift in its position. The MRI-linac also monitors the positioning of a tumor and the surrounding soft tissues from one treatment session to the next and then modifies the radiation delivery as necessary to account for any changes.
MRI-linac at Moffitt
With a commitment to helping our patients achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life, Moffitt Cancer Center is one of only a few cancer centers that is harnessing the power of MRI-linac, utilizing it in the treatment of pancreatic, prostate, liver and other cancers. If you’d like to learn more, you are encouraged to talk with a radiation oncologist at Moffitt. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form. We do not require referrals.