2014:51 Report from SSM’s scientific council on ionizing radiation within oncology, 2013. MR in radiotherapy - an important step towards personalised treatment?

Imaging is important for radiotherapy and the development of new imaging modalities is closely linked to the evolution of modern radiotherapy.  The implementation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in modern radiotherapy holds great promise for the future but the scientific council emphasizes that it must be carefully monitored in order to minimize the introduction of new risks, violating patient safety. This report describes the use of MRI in the radiotherapy process from patient selection to follow-up and discusses possibilities and difficulties related to the introduction of MRI.

The report states that many functional MR-methods are available and if the effort to bring these methods into robust and validated biomarkers is taken in the imaging community, their working potential is immense. Further, the report states that MRI is a modality assumed to improve delineation of RT target volumes and organs at risk. Even an MRI-only approach to treatment planning, using synthetic CT for dose-calculations, has been proposed in order to avoid the uncertainties associated with image co-registration. Implementation of an MRI scanner at the radiotherapy clinic calibrated with direct links to the coordinate frame of the treatment machine and with possibilities for doing imaging of the patient in the treatment position would introduce new possibilities for set-up treatment verification and adaptation of the treatment volume according to the changes in patient anatomy. The scientific council underlines that when introducing MRI in radiotherapy there are important factors that need to be taken into account, e.g. forming new multidisciplinary teams, additional education and the quality assurance.

The council believes that MRI in radiotherapy is a new and promising area of research that aims to further optimize the radiotherapy on an individual level. For exploiting the potential benefits more research is needed in conjunction with development of competence.