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MR-Linac MOMENTUM study opens at Sunnybrook

August 15, 2019

A new study – MOMENTUM (The Multiple Outcome Evaluation of Radiotherapy Using the MR-Linac) – has now opened at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre following Health Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s approval of the new MR-Linac – Elekta Unity.

The MR-Linac is the first machine in the world to combine radiation and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and will let doctors at the Odette Cancer Centre target tumours and monitor their response to radiation with unprecedented precision, thanks to the machine’s real-time MRI guidance. Images will be taken on each day of a patient’s treatment, and radiation delivery will be adapted based on the image to target the tumour, even as the tumour moves inside the body. This optimal radiation treatment approach aims to improve patients’ survival while also reducing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Patients enrolled in MOMENTUM will be asked if they are willing to share their de-identified information about their treatment experience, including their MR images and quality-of-life information.

As an original member of the international consortium for the development and implementation of the MR-Linac, Sunnybrook is one of seven centres involved in MOMENTUM, the next phase in the clinical implementation of the MR-Linac. The data collected through MOMENTUM will help inform future novel treatment approaches on the machine.

Our team of radiation oncologists will identify patients to be treated on the MR-Linac, based on indications that they believe are well-suited for this technology. At Sunnybrook, MOMENTUM will focus initially on glioblastoma and prostate cancer, followed by pancreatic, head and neck, and cervical cancers. Additional cancer sites will be rolled out in a controlled and systematic way, to ensure we are delivering safe, effective treatments on this new device.

The implementation of the MR-Linac technology and start of the MOMENTUM at Sunnybrook has been made possible by a large team of dedicated staff, including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, researchers, MRI scientists and more.

“We are so pleased and excited to be moving on to this phase in the MR-Linac journey,” said Dr. Arjun Sahgal, radiation oncologist, head of the Cancer Ablation Therapy program at Sunnybrook, and site lead of MOMENTUM. “Through MOMENTUM, we will collect and contribute to data that will help researchers and oncologists here and around the world come up with the best ways of ablating tumours using this technology. This kind of work is so important for improving patient outcomes and experience.”