In 2020 Providence Cancer Institute brought the first ViewRay MRIdian MRI Linac (MR Linac) to the Pacific Northwest, making Providence Portland Medical Center the first community hospital in the U.S. to offer this technology.
MR Linac uses MRI combined with a linear accelerator for precise targeting to maxiize tumor destruction and minimize damage to normal tissue. Providence Cancer Institute offers treatment on the MR Linac at the Elsie Franz Finley Radiation Oncology Center, located at Providence Portland Medical Center.
As one of few cancer centers in the world to be working with this cutting-edge technology, Providence Cancer Institute shows our commitment to helping patients fight cancer with the best treatments available.
“This technology allows us to track the movements and monitor changes in shape of the target and surrounding organs so that we can modify the radiation beams to fit the picture of the moment, not yesterdays. It permits stronger, shorter, more effective treatments to be delivered with potentially less complications,” according to Steven Seung, MD, FACR, PhD – Providence Cancer Institute Radiation Oncology Medical Director.
The MR Linac difference
Due to MR Linac’s precision, treatment can be as short as one week.
Unlike other image guided radiotherapies relying on x-rays, MR Linac allows for real-time tracking of internal organs using MRI. This allows the radiation beam to be turned on and off as the tumor moves in and out of the target zone.
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. While you breathe, swallow or digest food, your internal organs move. This movement, even if barely noticeable, causes your tumor to constantly change location.
Standard radiation cancer care treats anywhere the tumor might move to during treatment, including the surrounding healthy tissue and organs. 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. MR Linac is the safest modality available to treat tumors of the abdomen due to its adaptive therapy capabilities.
Watch this two-minute animated video to see how MR Linac targets tumors.
Eligibility and cancers treated
Providence Cancer Institute has expanded the types of cancer that can be treated with MR Linac technology.We will continue to add tumor types that become eligible for treatment.
Tumor types now include:
- Abdomen (liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, metastases to liver, adrenal and other areas)
- Pelvis (prostate cancer, metastases to pelvis)
Appropriate candidates for MR Linac treatment are patients who do not have contraindications for MRI, are in relatively good shape and can tolerate lying down for 30-60 minutes, and whose cancer is limited in size and number (to be determined by the treating radiation oncologist).
Personalized treatment plan
What to expect
Every patient will have a different treatment plan, but the length of treatment sessions are usually thirty minutes to one hour, given three to five times a week, over a week or two-week long course.
Talk with your doctor about when you will be able to resume normal activities. This timeline will depend on your specific treatment plan and activities.
Preparing for 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.
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.