In September 2018, The Royal Marsden became the first hospital in the UK and the third in the world to treat a patient with the groundbreaking new radiotherapy technology, the MR Linac.
The MR Linac, funded by a £10m grant from the Medical Research Council and supported by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, simultaneously generates magnetic resonance images and delivers X-rays — allowing radiotherapy to be adjusted in real time helping to minimise damage to healthy tissue.
A team from The Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) have been working for years to bring this technology to clinical use and believe the ability to target tumours with radiation beams in real time will be particularly effective for cancers that change position by breathing, bladder filling or bowel changes and reduce the side-effects for the patient. For example tumours in the prostate, lung, bladder and bowel can be targeted in real time thereby allowing the radiation beams to be adjusted with enhanced precision.
The MR Linac is a dream come true. If you were going to design radiotherapy from scratch, this is how you would do it. To be able to see the patient’s anatomy before you treat, to be able to change where you put the dose and treat with such accuracy is incredible.