Real-time visualisation supporting tumour treatment
This technology combines high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques with extremely precise radiation therapy. This type of radiation therapy is called magnetic resonance image guided radiation therapy (MRIgRT).
Contact our centres for information about MRIgRT treatment options
The benefits of MRIgRT
Real-time magnetic resonance imaging allows the MRIgRT to show the exact position and shape of the tumour during treatment, so it can target the tumour more precisely
Greater control and precision
With the MRIgRT if your tumour moves slightly, your treatment will pause until it comes back into position
Likely to reduce side effects
MRIgRT accuracy means the radiation beam is less likely to damage healthy tissue than conventional radiation therapy. Side effects occur when healthy tissue is damaged
Who can benefit from MRIgRT?
MRIgRT is a promising treatment option for tumours that are located near other major organs where limiting damage to healthy tissue is paramount, or in organs that tend to move a lot – for example in the upper abdomen due to breathing.
This makes this technology a potential treatment option for a range of cancer types, due to its accuracy at targeting small tumours. It is also beneficial in the treatment of metastases, where cancer has spread to other parts of the body or if a patient requires repeated treatment to areas that have previously received radiation therapy.
A patient who is suitable for both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning and radiation therapy may be referred for treatment via the MRIgRT technology by their treating physician.
What does MRIgRT treatment involve?
Here is an outline of what to expect after your initial consultation and before, during and after your treatment. There are four stages to the process: your planning appointment, planning, treatment and follow-up. Before your first appointment, your care team will call you to explain any preparation instructions in advance of your appointments and to answer any questions.
The appointment will last for two to three hours and will involve a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on the MRIgRT and a computed tomography (CT) scan. It will involve the following steps:
- Your dedicated team will explain the process to you and will ask you to fill in a safety questionnaire
- You will be asked to change into a gown and remove any metal objects such as jewellery, hearing aids, glasses or dentures
- You will get some markings on your skin that the staff use to accurately position you for treatment everyday
- You will be directed to the simulation room to have your CT scan. Here you will lie on the couch in the same position as you will during treatment. The team will make some temporary markings. This appointment will take around 30 minutes
- The team will now direct you to the MRIgRT treatment room for your MRI Scan. This appointment will be around 15 minutes and you will be placed in the same position as you were for the CT scan
Over the next week, your specialist and care team will work together to create a personalised treatment plan that is specific to you. We use advanced computer technology to do this.
Your treatment team will advise of what steps you need to take, before treatment.
We will also carry out many of the same steps at treatment as we did at planning, such as removing accessories and changing clothes. Your treatment will take 45–60 minutes.
We will talk to you regularly throughout your treatment and you can talk to us through a two way intercom system.
Before each treatment session, you will have a new MRI scan which will be compared with your planning scans. Any movements of your tumour and internal organs will be taken into account and your treatment plan will be carefully adjusted and adapted to account for these changes. During treatment you will hear a ‘whirring’ sound when the radiation beam is turned on.
After each treatment session, the nurse will talk you through the possible side affects you may experience and how best to manage these. You will be given contact details for your care team so you can call if you’re worried about anything.
Here’s what will happen after your treatment has finished. You will be referred back to your specialist, together with all the information they need to plan any further treatment you may require.
Seven to ten days later: A member of your care team will call to see how you are feeling and answer any questions that you may have. You will be asked to attend a follow up appointment, four to six weeks after your treatment where the radiation oncologist will review the outcomes with you.
In the longer term, we will continue to follow up on your recovery and well being through appointments, phone calls and emails with your care team.
Contact the team for more information
Meet our team
A/Prof. Dion Forstner
MBBS (Hons), FRANZCR, GAICD
Macquarie University Hospital (Oncology) +1
Dr Monique Heinke
BSc (Hons Class 1), PhD, MBBS, FRANZCR
Kingswood (Oncology) +2
Dr Jeremy De Leon
BSc (Bioinformatics), M.B.B.S (Honours), FRANZCR
St Vincent's Clinic Sydney (Oncology)
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Theranostics and how it works
Theranostics is a treatment using diagnostic imaging to identify if target receptors are present on cancer cells.
Radiation therapy for cancer
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread.
Any medical procedure or treatment involving the use of radiation carries risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with treatment, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.