MR-Guided Radiation Treatment

An advanced new radiation treatment technology, one of only five in the U.S, is now available at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper - giving our cancer experts the ability to deliver more precise radiation therapy than ever before.

The technology, known as the MR-Linac, combines a powerful magnetic resonance imaging (MR) machine and a linear accelerator into a single device. The integrated technology allows radiation oncologists to track and monitor the movement of tumors during radiation treatment in real time. 

MRI machines and linear accelerators have been used separately in the care of cancer patients for years. Using magnets and radio waves, high-field MRI machines create large, detailed images of body parts and are used for diagnosis and treatment planning. Linear accelerators deliver high-energy x-rays or electrons to a tumor to destroy cancer cells.  When these two tools are combined, radiation oncologists are able to see cancerous tumors more clearly (in high definition/high contrast), and are better able to target beams of radiation at the tumor, keeping the surrounding healthy tissue safe.  

The MR-Linac acts as a type of GPS system – tracking and monitoring the movement of tumors during radiation treatment. Organs, tissues, and tumors can move slightly when patient breathes in and out. But the new MR-Linac machine relays high-quality, real-time images of tumors as they are targeted with radiation beams from the linear accelerator, so that the radiation can be delivered with extraordinary precision.

MD Anderson at Cooper is the first in New Jersey and the Philadelphia Region, and one of only five in the nation, to acquire this advanced delivery system. 

Changing the Radiation Treatment Paradigm

Before the creation of the MR-Linac, the powerful magnetic fields used by MRI machines interfered with the delivery of radiation. By splitting the MRI in half, engineers were able to successfully place the linear accelerator, for the delivery of radiation to tumors, in the “gap” of the magnetic field.

How It Benefits Our Patients

Half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment. The goal is to deliver that radiation without harming nearby healthy tissue.

The MR-Linac system also tracks tumors from one treatment to the next. This allows the team to adjust the radiation delivery to target the tumor as it changes in size, shape, or position. This helps protect healthy tissue around the tumor reducing side effects to the patient.  

For the cancer patient, this level of precision in their radiation therapy can mean fewer side effects, faster recovery, and potentially better outcomes because every treatment session is adjusted and customized based on the tumor’s current location, size, and shape.

This means every radiation treatment session is personalized and tailored to our patient’s exact needs.

Personalized MR-guided radiation treatment is available for every type of tumor, including rare and hard-to-treat cancers, such as:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Brain tumors
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer

Our partner, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was one of the original seven institutions that made up the consortium that helped lead the way in developing this innovative technology. MD Anderson was also the first clinical site in the world to install the MR-Linac, other than the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where it was designed.

This next-generation technology is another advantage of fighting cancer at MD Anderson at Cooper.

Our MR-Linac Center is located at 715 Fellowship Road, in Mount Laurel, NJ.

The MR-Linac radiation therapy system is safe and fully approved by the FDA.

For more information about all of the radiation therapy options available at MD Anderson at Cooper, please visit our Radiation Oncology page.