The main research goal in the field of radiation oncology is to make radiotherapy even more accurate and to reduce side effects. In order to be able to tailor the therapy as precisely as possible to the individual patient, it is important to know the exact biological characteristics of the individual tumor that can have an impact on the effectiveness of the radiotherapy. Research into these so-called biomarkers is an important task of radiation oncology.
The integration of state-of-the-art imaging techniques into the planning of radiation treatment and radiotherapy is expected to further improve the precision of radiation. This includes, for example, the research and clinical implementation of dual-energy computed tomography into proton therapy planning or the integration of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) into radiotherapy.
A new type of MR linear accelerator, which currently only exists at a few locations in Germany, will be available in the new NCT/UCC building towards the end of 2021. This accelerator integrates MRI imaging into radiotherapy. Patients whose tissue to be irradiated shows changes over the course of several weeks of radiotherapy, but also during a radiotherapy fraction lasting only a few minutes, can benefit in particular. Using MRI, scientists and physicians will in future be able to correct such movements and adjust the radiation plan accordingly. As a result, less healthy tissue will be irradiated. This technique will initially be used primarily in clinical trials.