Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – The Loyola Center for Cancer Care & Research at Palos Health South Campus in Orland Park is the first center in Illinois – and only the fifth in the country – to offer a groundbreaking MRI-guided radiation therapy that targets tumors with millimeter precision.

Called MRIdian® Linac, the FDA-cleared, state-of-the-art system delivers radiation precisely to the tumor, even if body functions such as breathing cause the tumor to move during the radiation treatment. The ultra-sharp beam of radiation minimizes damage to surrounding tissue.

"This is the most advanced radiation system on the market, and we are pleased to offer it to the southwest suburban community," said William Small, Jr., MD, FACRO, FACR, FASTRO, chair of Loyola Medicine's department of radiation oncology and director of Loyola's Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. "This is an example of how Loyola Medicine's innovative affiliation with Palos Health is bringing academic-level care close to patients' homes."

The new system enables clinicians to precisely locate, target and track the position and shape of tumors as they move in the body, said Raymond Wynn, MD, FACR, Loyola's vice chair of network operations in the department of radiation oncology. "We can deliver more radiation, in fewer sessions, while sparing healthy tissue."

The system uses a machine called a linear accelerator, or linac. The accelerator shoots electrons at a metal target at nearly the speed of light, transforming them into photons. A beam of high-energy photons then is precisely aimed at the tumor, killing cancer cells.

Traditional linear accelerators employ CT scans taken ahead of time to align the tumor with the radiation beam. The new system uses MR imaging, which is far superior to CT scans in showing soft tissues. And unlike the CT scans, the MR imaging is done during the radiation session. This allows the clinician to adapt in real time, reshaping the radiation beam to match the patient.

The MRI-guided system can be used on any solid tumor, and is especially effective in treating soft tissue tumors in the pancreas, kidney, adrenal glands, liver, brain and central nervous system.

The MRIdian Linac installation is the result of a partnership between Loyola Medicine and Palos Health to bring renowned oncology expertise, leading-edge technology and coordinated, collaborative care to patients in the Chicago's southwest suburbs.

"At Palos Health, we're committed to delivering the most advanced cancer therapies to the patients we serve, so we're really proud to be an early adopter of this important advance in cancer care," said Terrence Moisan, MD, chief executive officer of Palos Health.

As an academic medical center, the Loyola Center for Cancer Care & Research at Palos Health South Campus will offer patients access to cancer clinical trials.

The center offers patients academic care from an integrated team of cancer subspecialists, including board-certified, fellowship-trained medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists. The center is located on the ground level of a new 52,000-square-foot facility owned by Palos Health at 15300 West Avenue, Orland Park.

In addition to cancer care, Loyola Medicine at Palos Health South Campus will include physician office space, an outpatient surgery center and specialty care including audiology, diabetes education, endocrinology, gastroenterology, gynecology, hepatology, neurology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology (ear-nose-throat), orthopaedics, pain management and plastic and reconstructive surgery.