Advanced MRI-Guided Radiation Therapy Program Marks 5th Year at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

In April 2018, Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute became one of the first centers in the world to treat patients with the ViewRay™ MRIdian Linac, the first FDA-cleared MR (magnetic resonance)-guided radiation therapy system.  In July 2022, the Institute was the first in the world to deliver adaptive MR-guided radiation therapy using MRidian.

Advanced features unique to the MRIdian Linac include using diagnostic quality MRI scans that improve targeting accuracy, continuous imaging of the patient’s tumor throughout treatment, automatically pausing treatment if the tumor moves out of the correct position, and adapting the delivery of radiation dose to account for day-to-day anatomic changes.  These features enable delivery of significantly higher tumor dose while sparing surrounding organs, which can enhance treatment efficacy while reducing side effects.

Recently celebrating its five-year anniversary treating with the MRIdian Linac, the Institute has become widely recognized as an international leader in MR-guided radiation therapy, known for successfully treating the most challenging tumors including those that typically do not respond to standard doses of radiation. 

As such, Miami Cancer Institute regularly draws not only local, but also out-of-state and international cancer patients -- specifically for targeted treatment with the MRIdian Linac because of the improved treatment outcomes with little to no side effects, said Michael Chuong, M.D., FACRO who is the lead physician for the MRI-guided radiation program and the medical director for Miami Cancer Institute’s Department of Radiation Oncology.


(Watch video now: Hear from cancer patient Connie Harrington and Michael Chuong, M.D., FACRO, the lead physician for the MRI-guided radiation program and the medical director for Miami Cancer Institute’s Department of Radiation Oncology.)

The same MR-guided radiation therapy system is now available at Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health.

Michael Chuong, M.D., FACRO, lead physician for the MRI-guided radiation program and the medical director for Miami Cancer Institute’s Department of Radiation Oncology.

“Over the last five years, we've been fortunate to treat more than 700 patients with a spectrum of cancers including those of the pancreas, liver, lung, esophagus, prostate, brain, bladder, among others.  Despite many having large inoperable tumors with few if any other treatment options, most have achieved long-term tumor control and some even complete tumor eradication,” said Dr. Chuong. “Other important benefits of this advanced treatment approach are that it requires no anesthesia, is non-invasive, is delivered as an outpatient, and frequently can be completed in only 1-5 days compared to over several weeks using other treatment devices.”

One of the out-of-state cancer patients who was referred to the Institute’s MR-guided radiation program was Connie Harrington, 76, patient diagnosed with advanced and inoperable pancreatic cancer before being referred to Dr. Chuong.  She was treated with the MRIdian Linac over 5 days.

“I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude about the referral to Miami Cancer Institute,” said Connie. “I felt that was going to a place where I have hope. And hope is the one thing that permeates all of my treatment because cancer is such a devastating diagnosis, and pancreatic cancer is a death sentence. You hear that word and you know it is the worst diagnosis. So for me, it was hope.” (Click here to read more Connie’s treatment and recovery).

Dr. Chuong said he is thrilled to hear that Connie’s oncology team back in her hometown of Phoenix has relayed exciting news since her treatment at Miami Cancer Institute last summer. “I was thrilled to hear that her scans after radiation therapy show no evidence of active cancer and that is living an excellent quality-of-life with no side effects,” he said.

The Institute’s reputation as a pioneer in MRI-guided radiation therapy continues to grow. Patients from out-of-state and across the globe continue to seek out Miami Cancer Institute for the MRIdian Linac, sometimes even when the same treatment device is located closer to home, because of the treatment team’s renowned expertise at the Institute. 

“Despite having a multitude of other advanced radiation technologies at Miami Cancer Institute, the MRIdian Linac clearly provides a distinct benefit to some patients by allowing us to treat in a way never before imagined," said Dr. Chuong. “While delivering high dose to tumors near critical organs may not be safe with other treatment devices, we can safely deliver a high tumoricidal dose with the MRIdian Linac while avoiding the nearby uninvolved organs.

“We have demonstrated that this improves local tumor control and in some situations may also prolong patient survival for some patients with inoperable tumors in our many publications. I am proud that our clinical experience and research using this technology are influencing practice worldwide.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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