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Hoag is Revolutionizing Cancer Therapy

Cancer patients at Hoag Family Cancer Institute now have access to life-saving technology that is unavailable almost everywhere else.

Through a generous donation by author Dean Koontz and his wife, Gerda, Hoag recently became the only hospital in Orange County, and one of the first in the nation to offer the ViewRay™ MRldian linear accelerator, the most advanced radiation therapy in the U.S. This revolutionary technology uses MRI imaging to precisely pinpoint tumors during radiation treatment – even in some of the most difficult-to-target areas in the body, including the pancreas, lungs and other soft tissue tumors.

The ViewRay MRIdian, combines a diagnostic quality MRI scanner with a radiation linear accelerator. This allows Hoag’s physicians to monitor the radiation target and surrounding critical structures in real time while a patient is being treated, a capability which has never before been possible.

MRI-guided radiation therapy can be used to treat many cancer types, especially tumors that move as a patient breathes. Adaptive planning and real-time imaging capabilities enable Hoag’s radiation oncologists and physicists to respond to any unexpected changes before or even during treatment.

“Our bodies move constantly. Our lungs move as we breathe, our diaphragm contracts and relaxes. And any tumor or adjacent organ shifts accordingly,” said Craig Cox, M.D., medical director of Hoag Radiation Oncology. “With real-time MRI-guided therapy, we now can hit a moving target with exact precision. We can see the target, we can see the critical normal tissue we want to avoid, and we make adjustments to the treatment plan while the patient is being treated.”

For example, if a patient’s tumor were to shift due to breath or internal organ movement, the machine would stop the delivery of radiation and allows physicians to adjust their approach in real time. It’s a next-level technology that is safer, more adaptable and more effective in providing targeted radiation treatment, Dr. Cox said.

This new MRI-guided therapy system is yet another in a long list of Hoag innovations. Ranked in the top 10% in the nation, Hoag’s cancer survival rates continually exceed national averages, illustrating the strength and effectiveness of its multidisciplinary tumor-specific programs. Hoag Radiation Oncology is the highest volume program in Orange County and among the strongest in Southern California. Hoag’s Radiation Oncology team consists of five dedicated radiation oncologists, with the recent recruitment of Shane Lloyd, M.D., Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, five dedicated physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapists and radiation oncology trained nurses. Together, this team provides the most advanced approach to radiation oncology in Orange County between Hoag’s two comprehensive cancer centers in Newport Beach and Irvine.

“The addition of the MRIdian linear accelerator is yet another example of how Hoag is committed to delivering the most advanced, most effective cancer care to our Orange County community,” said Burton Eisenberg, M.D., Executive Medical Director, Hoag Family Cancer Institute and the Grace E. Hoag Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair. “Through philanthropic support and visionary leadership from Hoag’s world-renowned oncology physician team, Hoag continues to be on the forefront of technology and cancer therapy.”

Speaking on behalf of the entire team, Dr. Cox expressed his gratitude to Dean and Gerda Koontz. In honor of the philanthropic couple’s generous $9 million gift, Hoag renamed its radiation oncology center in Newport Beach the Dean & Gerda Koontz Radiation Oncology Center.

“At Hoag, we are fortunate to have the community support that allows us to be early adopters, not just of the latest technology, but of technology that is changing how we approach cancer care.”

For more information, call 888-283-4768.