In an effort to harness innovative technologies for use in imaging and radiotherapy, NYU Langone Health has added an MRI-linear accelerator (MR-LINAC) machine to its Department of Radiation Oncology. This cutting-edge machine combines high-resolution MRI and a photon linear accelerator to treat tumors more precisely than currently available radiograph-based techniques and provides real-time images, which allows for stronger, more targeted therapy while preserving the surrounding tissue.
The team recently treated their first patient using this technology, 71-year-old Oscar-nominated cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh. When Dryburgh got a prostate cancer diagnosis in late 2022, he wanted to pursue options that would allow him to complete treatment quickly and effectively. He was directed to David J. Byun, MD, radiation oncologist at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, who, after talking with Dryburgh, decided radiation therapy was the best option. The timing worked out perfectly for MR-LINAC, which could be done over just five treatments. Dryburgh finished his treatment regimen and is recovering, doing well, and already back to doing yoga and regular activity.
“I was initially worried about going through radiation, after a difficult treatment for esophageal cancer years ago, but after hearing about the option to be treated using this new technology, I was much more at ease,” says Dryburgh. “I am back to fighting fit, and that’s all thanks to Dr. Byun and the rest of my team.”
“I am back to fighting fit, and that’s all thanks to Dr. Byun and the rest of my team.”
Fewer treatment sessions and faster recovery times are just two benefits of MR-LINAC, according to Dr. Byun.
“MR-LINAC will help to overcome many of the issues we commonly encounter within the conventional radiation treatment paradigm,” says Dr. Byun. “With this novel platform, we can now adapt and eventually react in real time to anatomic changes, personalizing our treatment plan rather than using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.”
The new director of the Genitourinary Cancer Disease Management Group and brachytherapy at Perlmutter Cancer Center, Michael J. Zelefsky, MD, brings more than 30 years of experience treating prostate cancer. As one of the world’s authorities on prostate cancer treatment, Dr. Zelefsky has made major contributions to the field, shaping clinical practice guidelines and influencing treatment protocols worldwide. He was instrumental in the development of intensity-modulated radiotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer, which is now employed routinely throughout the world. Dr. Zelefsky is bringing his expertise to NYU Langone, leading researchers and clinicians in developing the use of MR-LINAC to provide world-class care and better patient outcomes.
The Department of Radiation Oncology works closely with the Departments of Radiology and Urology and the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology developing imaging techniques and further advancing the use of this technology.
“We are working closely with our group of physicists, radiation oncologists, and radiation therapists to develop the use of MR-LINAC that can effectively integrate information from diagnostic scans to deliver more precise radiation to prostate cancer tumors,” says Dr. Zelefsky. “The multidisciplinary team we have access to at NYU Langone allows us to get better patient outcomes and improve our ability to more effectively eradicate the prostate tumor with less associated side effects.”
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