The Amsterdam-based Netherlands Cancer Institute has installed Royal Philips’ 1.5T MR-guided linear accelerator system, the Elekta MR-linac. Integrating a radiotherapy system and high-field MRI scanner with software enabling clinicians to visualize anatomy in real time, MR-linac is designed to reduce normal tissues’ exposure to radiation beans. It allows physicians to locate a tumor, as well as lock onto it during delivery, even when the tumor tissue changes shape, location, or size between treatment sessions.

Uulke van der Heide, PhD, a medical physicist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute’s radiation oncology department, lauds MR-linac as a major advancement in radiation therapy. “The ability to actually see that we are delivering the correct radiation dose to the intended target has the potential to reduce side effects and improve quality of life, allow for escalated dose delivery, and ultimately increase our ability to control tumors,” he says.

The Netherlands Cancer Institute—the third site to install the MR-linac system—is a member of the Elekta MR-linac Consortium, which Royal Philips and Swedish company Elekta established in 2012. By the end of 2016, all seven cancer centers participating in the consortium will have installed the Elekta MR-linac. Consortium members are currently engaged in various stages of evaluation of the technology and are collaborating to establish new clinical protocols and develop methods for data collection and analysis, officials say.

Rob Cascella, CEO of Philips’ imaging businesses, says the company has invested heavily in this technology since MRI is emerging as a “promising oncology tool” for locating and quantifying disease. “Through the collaboration with Elekta and the consortium partners such as [the Netherlands Cancer Institute], I’m convinced that we have the prerequisites to make MR-guided radiotherapy a meaningful success for both patients and care providers,” he says.

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