February 15, 2019 by John Fernandez and Tanya Racoobian
A ‘Game Changer’ for Treating Tumors at Miami Cancer Institute
When 87-year-old Manny Avila was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the prognosis was devastating. “They gave him 2 months to live. The doctors said not to even bother with treatment,” says Manny Avila, Jr., his son.
A year and a half later, Manny and his family are at Miami Cancer Institute to celebrate the time they have had together, thanks to a new treatment paradigm in the fight against cancer. It came in the form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guided radiation therapy. Known as the MRIdian Linac System, the MRI-guided radiation therapy allows clinicians to see tumors and nearby soft-tissue anatomy throughout radiation treatment using real-time diagnostic visualization.
Michael Chuong, M.D., director of radiation oncology research & education at Miami Cancer Institute, is excited about the promise of this new tool in treating cancer. “Early clinical data is suggesting that higher doses of radiation are being delivered safely with this technology,” Dr. Chuong says. “Early data is showing it can potentially double expected survival rates in patients with a very poor prognosis.”
(Pancreatic cancer patient Manny Avila and his son discuss how he went from a ‘death sentence’ to enjoying family milestones over the last 18 months thanks to a new form of MRI-guided radiation therapy.)
In the case of pancreatic cancer, the tumor is targeted more accurately, reducing treatment radiation dose to surrounding organs such as the duodenum, small bowel, stomach and liver. A higher and potentially more effective radiation dose is delivered without increased risk for side effects and future complications for the patient.