Milwaukee, Wis. — Last week, radiation oncologists at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital, part of the Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network, treated their first cancer patient with the Elekta Unity MR-linac. The Elekta Unity is the first high-field MR-linac technology in the world to simultaneously generate diagnostic quality magnetic resonance images and deliver high-dose radiation beams. Elekta Unity allows radiotherapy to be adjusted in real time and delivered more accurately than ever before.
The patient, a 47-year-old woman from Fond du Lac, received radiotherapy treatment on the Elekta Unity to treat a cancerous liver tumor. The tumor, which could not be seen with standard CT-guided treatment, was clearly visible on Elekta Unity MRI images. The use of MR-guided radiation therapy, in this case, allowed the position and shape of the tumor to be verified as treatment was precisely delivered. The Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center is one of just two centers in the U.S., along with MD Anderson in Houston, to offer Elekta Unity to cancer patients.
With MR-enhanced imaging, Elekta Unity based radiation therapy may be appropriate for many cancer patients who are typically treated with radiation therapy. It can also treat people who have cancers that were previously considered unsuitable for or hard to treat with radiation therapy. This could include people with tumors that are in constant motion, such as a tumor in the lung or upper abdomen that moves with each breath. Treatment with Elekta Unity may also be appropriate for people with tumors that were previously hard to irradiate not only because of motion but also due to position —close to radiation-sensitive organs such as the stomach, kidney, heart, spinal cord or brain.
“The MR-Linac Consortium brought thought leaders together to share insights and identify unmet clinical needs that could be addressed through the integration of high-field MR imaging and modern linear accelerator technologies. This expanded functionality of the Elekta Unity offers the potential to fundamentally transform how radiation therapy regimens are developed, implemented and adapted to achieve optimal outcomes for our patients.” said Christopher Schultz, MD, FASTRO, FACR, Medical College of Wisconsin Bernard and Miriam Peck Family Professor, Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Froedtert & MCW Froedtert Hospital and Chair of the Elekta Unity MR-Linac Consortium.
Researchers at the Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center are part of this consortium— a global collaboration of investigators from leading academic institutions and industry partners studying the advanced capabilities of MR-linac technology. The data and analysis the consortium members are compiling will help define the practical applications of Elekta Unity with the goal of improving outcomes of cancer patients treated with radiation therapy around the world.
“The Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center’s ability to treat the first patient with Elekta Unity soon after receiving 510(k) clearance underscores the power of our collaborative and Consortium-based approach to developing this transformative system,” said Richard Hausmann, Elekta President and CEO. “We extend our congratulations to them for achieving this milestone of making precision radiation therapy with Elekta Unity clinically available to patients. Elekta Unity will open the door to new treatment regimens, not only in cancers for which radiation therapy is typically used but also for hard-to-treat cancers that require new therapeutic approaches.”
On Dec. 5, 2018, Elekta (EKTA-B.ST) announced that the Elekta Unity magnetic resonance radiation therapy (MR/RT) system received 510(k) premarket notification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, clearing the technology for commercial sales and clinical use in the United States.
The Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center was the second U.S. and fifth global site to install the MR-linac system. Founding members of the MR-linac Consortium include the Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital, USA; The Netherlands Cancer Institute – Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, the Netherlands; University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA; the Institute of Cancer Research, working with its clinical partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, UK; The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, UK; and the Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Canada.
During the last decade or more, experts at the Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center have been at the forefront, helping evolve image-guided, adaptive radiation therapy techniques and technologies and building on expertise that is turning the tide toward more personalized cancer care.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network
The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin regional health network is a partnership between Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin supporting a shared mission of patient care, innovation, medical research and education. Our health network operates eastern Wisconsin's only academic medical center and adult Level I Trauma Center at Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, an internationally recognized training and research center engaged in thousands of clinical trials and studies. The Froedtert & MCW health network, which includes five hospitals, one of which is a nationally ranked academic medical center, more than 1,600 physicians and nearly 40 health centers and clinics, draws patients from throughout the Midwest and the nation. In our most recent fiscal year, outpatient visits exceeded 1.1 million, inpatient admissions to our hospitals were 49,250 and visits to our network physicians totaled 932,000.
About the Medical College of Wisconsin
With a history dating back to 1893, The Medical College of Wisconsin is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and community engagement. More than 1,200 students are enrolled in MCW’s medical school and graduate school programs in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Central Wisconsin. MCW’s School of Pharmacy opened in 2017. A major national research center, MCW is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In FY2016, faculty received more than $184 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, MCW faculty direct or collaborate on more than 3,100 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,500 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 525,000 patients annually.