The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, have delivered the first ever treatment in the UK using a Magnetic Resonance Linear Accelerator (MR Linac) machine.

The MR Linac is the first technology in the world to simultaneously generate magnetic resonance images and deliver X-ray radiation beams — allowing radiotherapy to be adjusted in real time and delivered more accurately and effectively than ever before.

The ability to target tumours with radiation beams in real time will be particularly effective for cancers that change position through breathing, bladder filling or bowel changes and should reduce the side-effects for the patient.
For example tumours in the prostate, lung, bladder and bowel would be targeted in real time – allowing the radiation beams to be adjusted with enhanced precision during the course of treatment.

The patient received radiotherapy treatment on the MR Linac as part of the PRISM clinical trial, which is the first of its kind in the UK. Previously people have only had an imaging scan as part of early trials to calibrate the pioneering machine.

Professor Uwe Oelfke, Head of the Joint Department of Physics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden, who leads the joint MR Linac project, said: “For decades the radiation oncology community has dreamed of the day when we could see what we treat in real time just as our surgical colleagues do, and we are excited that this day has arrived.

“Radiotherapy is important to the treatment of around 40 per cent of the people who are cured of cancer.

“But if we want to fully unlock the potential of radiotherapy by making it even more precise in targeting the cancer and avoiding healthy tissue, we need to be able to see a patient’s tumour while we deliver the radiation treatment. The MR Linac will make this possible."