Breakthrough in radiotherapy promises targeted cancer treatment

3 June 2009

A research group from the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands has successfully proven that simultaneous radiation treatment and diagnostic-quality MRI is feasible.

By actively shielding the radiation beam from the MRI scanner’s magnet and redesigning the treatment room set-up, which has until now been difficult to put into practice, the researchers have managed to produce high-quality, real-time MRI images. This could enable oncologists to target radiation far more accurately while it is being applied. 

The findings have been published in Physics in Medicine & Biology [1].

Current radiation therapy treatment damages a patient’s healthy tissue as well as eradicating the tumour it is intended to destroy, making the treatment especially invasive and often causing nasty side effects.

Real-time image-guided radiotherapy, combining radiation treatment with non-invasive MR imaging, would be far less harmful for patients as it would leave less healthy tissue damaged and give radiation oncologists the possibility of instantly modifying the treatment dose as tumours change in size and shift.

The research team is working towards a clinical prototype and is hoping to start the first clinical tests in a year’s time.


Raaymakers BW et al. Integrating a 1.5 T MRI scanner with a 6 MV accelerator: proof of concept. Phys. Med. Biol. vol 54 (no 12) N229.

Bookmark this page

To top