Breakthrough in radiotherapy promises targeted cancer treatment
3 June 2009
A research group from the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the
Netherlands has successfully proven that simultaneous radiation
treatment and diagnostic-quality MRI is feasible.
By actively shielding the radiation beam from the MRI scanner’s
magnet and redesigning the treatment room set-up, which has until now
been difficult to put into practice, the researchers have managed to
produce high-quality, real-time MRI images. This could enable
oncologists to target radiation far more accurately while it is being
The findings have been published in Physics in Medicine & Biology
Current radiation therapy treatment damages a patient’s healthy
tissue as well as eradicating the tumour it is intended to destroy,
making the treatment especially invasive and often causing nasty side
Real-time image-guided radiotherapy, combining radiation treatment
with non-invasive MR imaging, would be far less harmful for patients as
it would leave less healthy tissue damaged and give radiation
oncologists the possibility of instantly modifying the treatment dose as
tumours change in size and shift.
The research team is working towards a clinical prototype and is
hoping to start the first clinical tests in a year’s time.
Raaymakers BW et al. Integrating a 1.5 T MRI scanner with a
6 MV accelerator: proof of concept. Phys. Med. Biol. vol 54 (no
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