An international leader in cancer treatment and research, Siteman Cancer Center has a rich history of adopting and helping to develop new technology with a focus on improving patient care and outcomes. InJanuary 2014, Siteman Cancer Center began treating patients using the world’s first and only MRI-guided radiation therapy system – called MRIdian – that enables tumors to be visualized during treatment.
The technology allows clinicians to see a patient’s internal anatomy in real-time and keep the radiation beams on target when the tumor moves during treatment, thus compensating for patient breathing and subtle organ motion, which may move the tumor out of the desired position in the radiation beam.
“We congratulate the Siteman team as they enter their third year of demonstrating the benefits of treating cancer patients with MRI-guided radiation therapy,” said Chris A. Raanes, President and Chief Executive Officer of ViewRay. “We value their thought-leadership and have channeled what we have learned from their clinical experience with the MRIdian system into our future innovation in MRI-guided radiation therapy.”
The Siteman team has been active in sharing their expertise to help other centers implement an MRI-guided radiation therapy program. Over the past two years, Washington University physicians have had more than 40 papers and posters accepted at major medical meetings and published eight studies in peer-reviewed medical journals on their experience with MRI-guided radiation therapy. The department is currently involved in three clinical trials exploring MRI-guided radiation therapy for lung, abdomen and breast.
To date, the MRIdian system at Siteman Cancer Center has been used to treat more than 25 different indications. The site was the first to perform MRI-guided adaptive radiation therapy, which is now used in clinical practice daily. Such treatments enable clinicians to adapt to changes and movement in the patient’s anatomy in real-time while the patient is being treated, bringing greater precision to radiation delivery.
“During the past two years of treating patients with MRI-guided radiation therapy, we’ve seen firsthand that MRI-guided radiation therapy can track the movement of tumors in the body in real-time, providing the assurance that we need to accurately target the tumor and spare surrounding healthy tissue,” said Jeff Michalski, M.D., professor and vice chair of Radiation Oncology at Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine.
An area of particular interest to the Siteman team is the use of MRI-guided radiation therapy to deliver stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), which utilizes higher doses of radiation in a shorter course of therapy than traditional radiation therapy. The soft-tissue visualization enabled by MRI-guidance lends itself well to the precision required for SBRT.
“With the new system, we’ve been able to treat tumors using SBRT that would have previously been problematic due to the proximity and sensitivity of nearby organs at risk,” said Sasa Mutic, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology at Washington University. “The ability to do real-time imaging, contouring, optimization and quality assurance while the patient is being treated has changed the way we deliver radiation.”