MR-Linac: Advanced Radiation Therapy for Cancer Treatment

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Radiation therapy is a powerful way to kill cancer cells. But it can also harm healthy tissue. At UVA Health, you’ll find the latest advance in radiation therapy — MR-linac.

MR-linac is an MRI-guided radiation therapy system. This high-tech device means we can better target only the tumor with a high dose of radiation. For you, this means:

  • Fewer treatment side effects
  • Fewer trips for treatment

UVA Cancer Center is among the first 25 centers nationwide to install a MRIdian® MR-linac machine. As Virginia’s first NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, we’ve got the expertise to bring this breakthrough treatment to you.

MR-Linac: Game Changer for Cancer Care

MRIdian is FDA-approved. In 1 innovative device, it combines 2 key features:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) so we can better target the tumor
  • Linear accelerator to deliver high-dose radiation to kill cancer cells

This therapy is best for treating tumors in and around the chest or abdomen. MR-linac may be right for you if you need radiation therapy for:

Advanced Radiation Therapy

Our care team explains the advantages of MR-Linac. View transcript.

Advantages of Radiation Therapy With MR-Linac

MR-linac overcomes some of the limits of conventional radiation therapy. Tumors can change shape or move during treatment, especially in parts of the body that shift as you breathe and digest food.

MR-linac allows cancer experts and even patients to see the tumor in real-time during therapy. This means we can:

  • Lock in and radiate the tumor when it falls into the target area
  • Turn off the radiation when the tumor isn’t aligned properly

Fewer Side Effects & Trips for Treatment

An X-ray or CT scan is traditionally used to help pinpoint the location of a tumor before radiation therapy. An MRI provides a more detailed image. It can help experts tell the tumor and healthy tissue apart.

During treatment, the care team can adapt therapy to account for changes in the body. This means treatment tailored to your anatomy on the day of your treatment.

This means fewer side effects from treatment.

MRIdian offers high-dose treatment. This could mean 5 instead of 30 treatment sessions.

What to Expect During Treatment

MR-linac treatment is painless and lasts about 10 minutes.

You’ll need to lie still inside the MRI cylinder. You can wear earplugs or headphones to help block noise from the MRI.

But unlike during a regular MRI, you may have the option to watch a video screen. On the screen, you’ll see if the tumor is in the target zone.

Just by changing the pace of your breathing, you can help hit the target zone.

Most patients can go back to their regular routine right after treatment.

Clinical Trials Planned to Advance Cancer Care

UVA Cancer Center will help advance the use of MRIdian. Advancing cancer care happens best through clinical trials. UVA Cancer Center plans to test MR-linac’s effectiveness in treating cancers like:  

  • Rectal cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Talk to your care team to see if you may qualify for a clinical trial.

A Care Team to Guide You

At UVA Health, you’ll have a whole team guiding you through every aspect of your treatment with MR-linac. This team includes:

  • Radiation oncologists who oversee every aspect of your care. They help decide the best treatment, how much radiation you’ll need, and where to deliver it.
  • Physicists and dosimetrists who plan the treatment. They make sure the right dose of radiation is delivered only to the tumor.
  • Nurses who provide care and support throughout your treatment. They’ll make sure you understand any necessary safety measures.
  • Radiation therapists who perform the MRI scan. They’ll position you during treatment and deliver the radiation treatment. They’ll help make your treatment as successful as possible.
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