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Magnetic resonance imaging replacing computed tomography in radiotherapy planning

Radiotherapy for prostate cancer can be planned on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging, according to a fresh doctoral dissertation.

In his doctoral dissertation, Juha Korhonen, Master of Science (Technology), studied radiotherapy planned on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The work indicates that MRI can be used more extensively than is now the case, as a tool in the planning of radiotherapy. The new technology adds precision and greater efficiency in patients' radiotherapy process. The doctoral study focuses on prostate cancer, which is the most common type of cancer among men. The technology is already in use at the Cancer Center of Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH).

Finland - a pioneer in health technology

Magnetic resonance imaging is an auxiliary tool for radiotherapy. The use of MRI for radiotherapy planning is increasing in hospitals, and the possibilities are under rapid development in Finland.

The new technology developed in the doctoral study helps define the target area of radiotherapy more precisely.  Traditionally, patients' care has been planned on the basis of both computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging, because MRI images could not be used in all phases of the planning process. The planning of treatment has required combining the two images, but thanks to the new technology, CT imaging is not mandatory.

'The excellent soft tissue visibility in MRI images helps in defining the target area for prostate cancer, for instance. The use of MRI images throughout the radiotherapy planning process enables more precise definition of the target area because avoiding uncertainty causing target transfer from MRI to CT image.  With the help of the technology, we reduce irradiation of patient's healthy tissues. We also save hospital resources when the machine time and working hours of radiographers can now be used for other purposes', Korhonen points out.

On the basis of the doctoral research, methods of MRI-based radiotherapy are being developed at the HUCH Cancer Center. There is demand for the new technology, because the use of magnetic resonance imaging is increasing for radiotherapy planning.

'A novel technology is coming to the market, in which magnetic resonance imaging has been integrated with the radiotherapy treatment device. The development work of the device is taking place also in Finland", Korhonen says.

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation

The dissertation "Magnetic Resonance Imaging –based Radiation Therapy" will be examined at the School of Electrical Engineering at Aalto University on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 noon in room S1, Otakaari 5, Espoo. The opponent will be Professor Peter Greer of the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Further information:
Juha Korhonen, HUCH Cancer Center
tel. +358 50 411 2697
[email protected]

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