Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Cancer Care Center treats its first patient with Elekta Unity MR Linac


Elekta announced that the IRCCS Ospedale Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria Cancer Care Center has treated its first patient using Elekta Unity, a transformative magnetic resonance radiation therapy (MR/RT) system that enables personalized precision radiation therapy.

“The real-time images that Elekta Unity provides enables unprecedented precision in delivering therapeutic radiation, particularly to anatomies that can be clearly seen on MR images, and those which change or move during the treatment course,” said Prof. Filippo Alongi, Head of the Advanced Radiation Oncology department at Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria Cancer Care Center and Associate Professor at the University of Brescia. “We are proud to be the first cancer center in Italy and southern Europe to offer this breakthrough advance in precision radiation medicine to our patients.”

Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria Cancer Care Center completed the treatment of a 73-year-old male prostate cancer patient. Following a multidisciplinary evaluation, the patient was offered a choice of active surveillance, robotic prostatectomy or radical radiation therapy. He opted for treatment with radiation therapy because it was a non-invasive approach to therapy and requested the most advanced technology available. Considering the characteristics of the patient and his tumor, the care team suggested that he enroll in the prospective observational study and registry approved by Ethical committee and Veneto Region. This protocol allows prostate cancer patients to be treated with Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) in five sessions using Elekta Unity. The care team also recommended the use of a hydrogel spacer to enlarge the distance between prostate and rectum to optimize adaptive plan procedures. The treatment was then delivered over five consecutive working days using daily plan adaptation to optimize tumor targeting, and the spacer was clearly visible at T2 images provided by MRI on-board during each fraction.

This is the first detailed case report of daily adaptive prostate SBRT with a hydrogel rectal spacer, clearly visible on the 1.5 Tesla (T) MR, monitored in real time during each session using the high-end MR-imaging capabilities of Elekta Unity. The treatment was feasible, easy and completed without interruption.

“The integration of high quality 1.5 T MR images with a cutting-edge linear accelerator is transforming the treatment of many cancer types, including the prostate cancer,” said Prof. Alongi. “With Elekta Unity we can assess and adapt treatment during radiation delivery, which was not feasible using conventional image-guided radiation therapy approaches.”

Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria Cancer Care Center is conducting a one-year study designed to help define a model of optimal clinical implementation of Elekta Unity in the treatment of prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, oligometastases and in patients previously treated with radiation therapy and are not candidates for re-irradiation with conventional radiotherapy. The study will include 230 patients and will provide insight into how to optimize personnel needs, organizational processes and timing of treatment for the use of Elekta Unity in these cancer indications. The study will also evaluate the potential effects of clinical implementation of Elekta Unity on the health system.

“Sacro Cuore has been providing expert and compassionate care to patients in Negrar and the larger Verona area for nearly one hundred years,” said Renato Leite, Elekta’s Executive Vice President Region Europe. “With the addition of Elekta Unity, the Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria Cancer Care Center remains faithful to its founding principles while embracing cutting-edge technology that enables precision radiation medicine. We share the Center’s commitment to caring for each patient as an individual and commend Prof. Alongi and his colleagues for making personalized radiation therapy with Elekta Unity available to cancer patients in Italy and southern Europe.”

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For almost five decades, Elekta has been a leader in precision radiation medicine. Our nearly 4,000 employees worldwide are committed to ensuring everyone in the world with cancer has access to – and benefits from – more precise, personalized radiotherapy treatments.