Hershey Medical Center uses MRI-guided radiation therapy to fight cancer
A new cancer treatment system used at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center can locate, target and track the position and shape of tumors while the radiation is being delivered. The end result is more effective radiation doses that minimize accidental exposure to surrounding organs.
The MRIdian radiation therapy system uses magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, along with radiation therapy to treat tumors and cancers throughout the body. MRI is capable of capturing multiple images per second, showing clinicians what is going on inside the body in real time when they use radiation therapy to attack the tumor.
“When a person breathes, swallows or digests food, their internal organs move. Even the slightest movement can affect the position of a tumor, ”said Dr. Rodney Ellis, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Pennsylvania State Cancer Institute. “MRI-guided radiation therapy allows us to reach a moving target and provide better patient care, while preserving healthy tissue. “
When the radiation beam is on, the MRIdian radiation therapy system captures a constant stream of soft tissue images with its MRI, acting on them almost instantly. If the tumor or a critical structure – such as a neighboring organ – moves beyond a specific limit, the radiation beam automatically shuts off. When the target returns within the preset limit, processing automatically resumes.
Ellis said the procedure is particularly effective against prostate cancer because it means fewer radiation treatments for patients, as well as fewer side effects and shorter recovery times.
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s team of highly trained cancer treatment experts also plan to target cancers of the liver, pancreas and lungs with the MRIdian radiation therapy system.
Each patient will have an individualized treatment plan and can expect treatment from a few days to several weeks, depending on the size, type and location of their tumor, as well as other factors.
Hershey Medical Center is one of 17 sites in the United States using MRIdian MRI-guided radiation therapy.