The Linac MR is a groundbreaking invention conceived here in Alberta with Cure Cancer Foundation funding. Dr. Gino Fallone had the idea for the device, which was initially thought impossible. The Linac MR incorporates a linear Accelerator (linac) and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI or MR), which were believed to be incompatible until Dr. Fallone had a breakthrough idea on how to combine them.
In the past, patients would first be scanned with the MR and then moved to a linac. An x-ray machine would be used in conjunction with linac and MR scans to try and find the tumours. X-ray is excellent for seeing into bones but doesn’t do a great job of displaying soft tissue. This makes it very difficult to spot soft-tissue tumours if the patient is breathing or moving. However, after years of research, Dr. Fallone discovered a way to combine both machines. This allows doctors to get an almost video feed of where the tumour is and ensure it is being hit with radiation. This new cancer treatment method will ensure radiation is more effectively being delivered to tumours, and will help give cancer patients a better chance at fighting the disease.
We recently caught up with Dr. Matthew Larocque, a doctor at the Cross Cancer Institute, as he explained the machine’s purpose. He stated that a linac is the most common tool for delivering radiation treatments to cancer patients. However, the linac doesn’t allow the doctors to see tumours that need to be hit with radiation. That’s where the MR is helpful. This machine can help doctors see tumours in soft tissue areas (lungs, breasts, or prostates). The devices were initially incompatible because of the MR’s powerful magnetic field, which interferes with the linac’s radiation. The linac also produces potent radio waves that interfere with the MR.
Watch the video below to learn more!