Some cancer patients are now being treated with MRI-guided radiation therapy by doctors at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Dr Dennis Hallahan, MD, chairman of radiation oncology, revealed that the combination of MRI and radiation therapy helps doctors to detect precisely when the tumor shifts, allowing them to avoid radiation killing off healthy tissue and thereby improving the patient outcomes. The MRI guided system has been developed by radiation oncologists and physicists at Washington University, with the clinical trials forming the basis on which the US Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 2012.
Radiation oncologist Parag Parikh, who led the clinical trials, said that the new therapy will be especially helpful in treating cancers in places such as abdomen or pelvis where it is difficult for the physicians to see clearly.
"The majority of tumors we treat are in soft tissue. With this new technology, we not only can see exactly what we are treating, but we also can see subtle changes in the tumor that might call for changes to the radiation treatment plan", Dr Parikh said.