One thousandth patient irradiated with the MR-Linac

More and more cancer treatments are being performed at UMC Utrecht using the MR-Linac. With this radiation device in combination with an MRI scanner, patients can be irradiated very precisely. Jan de Assen has pancreatic cancer and has received five radiation treatments with the MR-Linac. This month he was the thousandth patient at UMC Utrecht to receive this treatment. “If you qualify for this, don’t hesitate.”

“I have already had many MRIs, but this cannot be compared to that,” says Jan from Assen, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021. “It takes longer, about an hour. Fortunately, I am comfortably reclining on a mattress, which is specially made to measure. During each appointment, they first visualize everything in detail, after which they radiate with precision. This precision allows for a higher radiation dose. And it has less residual damage than the old irradiation method. Are you going to Utrecht, 165 km? People asked me. During your holidays in the south of France you don’t say ‘My God, how far’. It’s about my health.”

Radiation with the MR-Linac

  • With each radiation session, patients lie down in the MR-Linac for approximately 45 minutes.
  • First, magnetic resonance images are taken; This allows the radiation therapist to see exactly where the tumor is.
  • The final irradiation only takes a few minutes.
  • The tumor can be irradiated very precisely through the MR-Linac, without affecting healthy tissue.
  • Due to the precision and high dose at the same time, fewer total irradiations are often required.

UMC Utrecht now has three MR-Linac devices.

Operate without cutting

Previously, Herman shared how his prostate cancer was treated with the MR-Linac. This way of operating without cutting is now part of the routine treatment at UMC Utrecht for an increasing number of tumor types. Jan also found this treatment in his search for options, when it turned out that his tumor grew back after chemotherapy in Groningen. “We came across the MR-Linac at UMC Utrecht via the Internet. The next day we immediately asked our radiation therapist in Groningen if he could fix this. That same day I was referred to UMC Utrecht.”

“The precise way of irradiating with the MR-Linac and the clear explanation of the radiotherapist doctor Intven were decisive.”

Jan de Assen, pancreatic cancer.

Radiation oncologist Martijn Intven at UMC Utrecht specializes in the MRI-guided treatment of rectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and metastases to the lymph nodes, liver, and adrenal glands. Martijn: “Thanks to technical advances, we can treat more and more types of tumors with the MR-Linac. We almost always do this treatment in the context of scientific research, so we can learn from each treatment. Our treatments now primarily focus on patients with a limited amount of non-metastatic disease or with a limited amount of metastasis. In future research, we will also investigate whether radiotherapy as a local treatment offers added value in patients with more metastatic disease. This in a combined treatment with chemotherapy or immunotherapy. Jan is the thousandth patient that we treat with the MR-Linac, a milestone of course, but above all the beginning of a new standard in radiotherapy”.

After a phone interview and studying the MRI images that Dr. Intven received via the Groningen patient portal, Jan started treatment in Utrecht. He now he has had the last of five radiation treatments. “If you qualify for this, don’t hesitate. There is a good enthusiastic team in radiotherapy to operate without cutting. I also want the check-up in Utrecht with Dr. Intven, we remain faithful to the hospital. Will we still see it when Max becomes champion? I thought last year. Now I’m ready: in December I’ll be looking for the Christmas tree in the attic again. Along with my wife.”

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