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11 March 2022
A new, state-of-the-art radiation therapy machine – the MR-Linac – is improving patient outcomes at the ONJ Centre.
The first of its kind in Victoria, the MR-Linac uses high quality magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to target tumours in real time, providing precise treatment and minimising damage to the surrounding tissue.
Professor Farshad Foroudi, Director Radiation Oncology, said the MR Linac will enable radiation treatment to be used for certain tumours, cutting down the number of treatments patients require and reducing the side effects.
“In traditional radiotherapy treatment, we use an MRI scanner to identify the location of the cancer and a separate Linear Accelerator to kill the tumours,” he said.
“The MR-Linac combines both treatment and advanced imaging technologies in one, allowing us to monitor the movement of tumour locations caused by breathing, swallowing, and other normal body movements during treatment.
“The benefits to patients are enormous as tumours can be treated with greater accuracy, reducing side effects for patients while potentially increasing the control we have over the cancer.”
“This technology gives us an even better chance of improving cancer treatment outcomes for our patients,” he said.
The new MR-Linac is currently being used to treat brain cancer and tumours in the head and neck region and the service is continuing to expand.
“One of the great benefits of this new technology is the ability to treat tumours that may change position. We are able to tailor treatments so they respond to changes in tumour over time,” Prof Foroudi said.
“This will be particularly valuable as we expand the services and begin treating other, hard-to-target cancers such as pancreas, liver and kidney cancers in the coming months.
“Targeting treatment means we’re able to deliver more radiation to the tumour without affecting the surrounding, non-cancerous, tissue which reduces risk of side effects for the patient,” he said.
Construction works to install the MR-Linac machine at the ONJ Centre took more than 12 months.
Works involved excavation near the large oak tree at the front of the ONJ Centre – an important feature often referred to as the ‘Tree of Life’ by patients and staff.
A qualified arborist was engaged to provide input into the planning of the works and ensure the tree was successfully protected during the excavation process.