PhD Defense: Advancing the frontiers of MR-guided radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer

PhD Defense of Guus Grimbergen


Pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types, is very difficult to treat with radiotherapy. On conventional radiotherapy machines, we cannot properly distinct between the tumor and the surrounding healthy organs, like the bowels. By not being able to see these structures, we are prevented from administering effective radiation doses. Moreover, these tumors constantly move around as the patients breathes, making it even harder to correctly target the tumor.

This has changed with the introduction of the MR-Linac, a radiotherapy machine with a built-in MRI scanner. The onboard MRI allows us to see much better where both the tumor and the healthy organs are. In this thesis, we investigated how we can maximize the capabilities of the MR-Linac for optimal radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

We investigated the quality of the MRI scans that are made just prior to treatment, to find out which scans allow for a the best localization of the tumor and the healthy organs. We also collaborated with other hospitals around the world to find the best treatment protocol, like how much dose should we prescribe, and how we should tackle difficult cases where important organs are very close to the tumor. 

We can even use real-time MRI during treatment to see how the tumor moves from the patient breathing and shifting. With this information, we assessed how precisely the treatment was delivered: did we deliver enough radiation dose to the tumor, or did some motion result in less dose than we intended? Ultimately, we used real-time MRI control the radiation beam based on tumor movement. 

These technical innovations will make radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer more precise and more effective, and we believe that the MR-Linac will become an indispensable tool for the safe and effective treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Start date and time
End date and time
Academiegebouw, Domplein 29 & online (livestream link)
PhD candidate
G. Grimbergen
Advancing the frontiers of MR-guided radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer
PhD supervisor(s)
dr. G.J. Meijer
prof. dr. B.W. Raaymakers
prof. dr. M.P.W. Intven