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Radiation Oncology

Transformative cancer treatment now available at Froedtert and MCW Clinical Cancer Center

Elekta Unity MR-linac delivers clearer and more accurate imaging for hard-to-treat cancers. The Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital is one of just two centers in the U.S., along with MD Anderson in Houston, to offer Unity MR-linac to cancer patients.

Radiation oncologists at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital, part of the Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network, recently treated their first cancer patient with the Elekta Unity MR-linac. The Unity MR-linac is the first high-field MR-linac technology in the world to simultaneously generate diagnostic quality magnetic resonance images and deliver high-dose radiation beams. The Unity MR-linac allows radiotherapy to be adjusted in real time and delivered more accurately than ever before.

MR-linac Clinical Team

The patient, a 47-year-old woman from Fond du Lac, received radiation therapy on the Unity MR-linac to treat a cancerous liver tumor. The tumor, which could not be seen with standard CT-guided treatment, was clearly visible on Unity MR-linac’s MRI images. The use of MR-guided radiation therapy, in this case, allowed the position and shape of the tumor to be verified as treatment was precisely delivered. The Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center is one of just two centers in the U.S. to offer Elekta Unity to cancer patients. The other facility is the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

With MR-enhanced imaging, Unity MR-linac-based radiation therapy may be appropriate for many cancer patients who are typically treated with radiation therapy. It can also treat people who have cancers that were previously considered unsuitable for or hard to treat with radiation therapy. This could include people with tumors that are in constant motion, such as a tumor in the lung or upper abdomen that moves with each breath. Treatment with Elekta Unity may also be appropriate for people with tumors that were previously hard to treat not only because of motion but also due to position —close to radiation-sensitive organs such as the stomach, kidneys, heart, spinal cord, bladder, bowel or brain.

“The MR-Linac Consortium brought thought leaders together to share insights and identify unmet clinical needs that could be addressed through the integration of high-field MR imaging and modern linear accelerator technologies. This expanded functionality of the Elekta Unity MR-linac offers the potential to fundamentally transform how radiation therapy regimens are developed, implemented and adapted to achieve optimal outcomes for our patients.” said Christopher Schultz, MD, MCW Bernard and Miriam Peck Family professor, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Froedtert & MCW Froedtert Hospital and chair of the Elekta Unity MR-Linac Consortium.

Researchers at the Clinical Cancer Center are part of this consortium – a global collaboration of investigators from leading academic institutions and industry partners studying the advanced capabilities of MR-linac technology. The data and analysis the consortium members are compiling will help define practical applications of Elekta Unity with the goal of improving outcomes of cancer patients treated with radiation therapy around the world.

“The Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center’s ability to treat the first patient with Elekta Unity within weeks of 510(k) clearance underscores the power of our collaborative and Consortium-based approach to developing this transformative system,” said Richard Hausmann, Elekta President and CEO. “We extend our congratulations to them for achieving this milestone of making precision radiation therapy with Elekta Unity clinically available to patients. Elekta Unity will open the door to new treatment regimens, not only in cancers for which radiation therapy is typically used but also for hard-to-treat cancers that require new therapeutic approaches.”

On Dec. 5, 2018, Elekta announced that the Unity MR-linac received 510(k) premarket notification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, clearing the technology for commercial sales and clinical use in the U.S.

The Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center was the second U.S. and fifth global site to install the MR-linac system. Founding members of the MR-linac Consortium include the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital; University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands; The Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, the Netherlands; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA; the Institute of Cancer Research, working with its clinical partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, UK; The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, UK; Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Canada.

During the last decade or more, experts at the Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center have been at the forefront, helping evolve image-guided, adaptive radiation therapy techniques and technologies and building on expertise that is turning the tide toward more personalized cancer care.