ORLANDO, Fla. – A new technology is changing the way doctors treat cancer using MRI and radiation at the same time.
"It really is a game-changing thing in how we deliver care," said Justin Rineer, a radiation oncologist at the University of Florida Cancer Center.
The MRIdian (pronounced the same way as "meridian") combines MRI with radiation therapy to reduce radiation exposure for cancer patients who are undergoing radiotherapy.
Dr. Rineer said this type of therapy is especially useful with tumors in the upper abdomen that are surrounded by vital healthy organs.
"These tumors can actually fluctuate in size because they fill and deflate with fluid," Rineer said.
Brent Joyner was the first patient to be treated when the Orlando Health UF Cancer Center became the first hospital in Central Florida to offer the MRIdian. His tumor is not cancerous, but because of a genetic condition Joyner has, it’s growing.
"We did some scans initially, and then he looked to see if which type of treatment would be best for me, and because the tumor moves so much when I breathe," Joyner said.
Dr. Rineer said one of the limitations in delivering enough radiation to kill tumors that are close to the lungs, liver, pancreas and other vital organs is motion. The MRI allows doctors to see the tumor and the organs around it during treatment, and as the body naturally moves, the MRIdian turns off the radiation beam.
“To be able to do this live in real time, while we're delivering the therapy, can allow us to better spare those organs and deliver more dose to the target, to the tumor,” Rineer said.
Joyner’s treatments were scheduled to end in December, at which point he hopes to be tumor-free.