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First Sunnybrook prostate patient treated on MR-Linac Elekta Unity

November 20, 2019

On November 20, members of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s radiation team completed the first stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR) treatment for prostate cancer on the new MR-Linac — the Elekta Unity.

This technology is the first machine in the world to combine radiation and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and allows the team at the Odette Cancer Centre target prostate tumours and monitor their response to radiation with unprecedented precision — even as a tumour moves inside the body — thanks to the machine's real-time MRI guidance.

For prostate patients enrolled in this trial called PRISM, their radiation treatment will be planned following an MRI at the time of treatment. Typically, treatment is pre-planned based on CT images and performed based on that plan.

Because the bladder and rectum fill differently during each treatment, this can move the prostate around, so the treatment target area has to take into account that movement. For patients with prostate cancer, radiation can have long-term side effects to their bladder, rectum and erectile function.

By taking the daily position of the organs into account and adjusting the radiation in real-time if the bladder or rectum fill, the team can ensure exceptional precision and spare healthy tissue.

“We are already very precise with our prostate radiation treatments on a standard radiation machine,” said Dr. Danny Vesprini, radiation oncologist. “But the real-time MRI on this new device allows us even more precision for a truly targeted and personalized treatment.”

As a founding member of the Elekta MR-Linac consortium and the first Canadian centre to install an MR-Linac, Sunnybrook's team made significant contributions to the development and implementation of this technology beginning with a clinical trial. The team will remain at the forefront of cancer care, and an invaluable source of expertise and teaching for cancer ablation specialists across the country.

Read more about Sunnybrook's Cancer Ablation Therapy Program

Read perspectives from our team about bringing the MR-Linac - Elekta Unity to fruition