Four Technological Advances From Hoag’s Radiation Oncology Program That Are Driving Personalized Care

Because of your support, Hoag’s Radiation Oncology Program is consistently on the forefront of the latest equipment and technological advances in the field.

Every patient is unique, and so is their cancer. Hoag’s commitment is to personalize each patient’s cancer treatment plan to provide the most effective care and optimize quality of life. Unlike many radiation oncology programs that have just one or two treatment machines, Hoag maintains the full spectrum of specialized treatment machines, which each have unique traits and features. This allows the team to choose the treatment that will be most effective for each patient, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach. 

ViewRay MRIdian® Linear Accelerator 

Hoag was the second health care institution in California and the sixteenth in the nation to acquire the ViewRay MRIdian®, which is the most advanced radiation therapy available today. It is the first and only linear accelerator with MRI imaging, which equips clinicians with real-time, high-resolution images of the patient’s tumor and surrounding areas during radiation therapy. Housed at the Dean & Gerda Koontz Radiation Oncology Center at the Patty & George Hoag Cancer Center in Newport Beach, the ViewRay has been a game changer for patients, particularly when it comes to treating cancers in the abdomen, where the position of the tumor can shift from movement in the GI tract and from the patient’s breathing. The continuous MRI imaging allows radiation oncologists to account for movement in real time to deliver radiation to the target much more precisely while minimizing damage to healthy surrounding areas, which decreases side effects. With the newness of the technology, Hoag’s radiation oncologists are continuing to discover new uses and capabilities of the ViewRay, expanding effective treatment options for patients in our community.


Hoag was an early adopter of this breakthrough technology, which uses CT imaging to target the tumor more precisely. Traditionally, radiation therapy treated a tumor by focusing relatively large beams of radiation from two to six directions. TomoTherapy®, however, uses hundreds of pencil beams of radiation, rotating in a spiral around the tumor and hitting it from all directions. As the beam rotates, the intensity of the radiation varies, which allows clinicians to deliver radiation with increased precision and spare healthy tissue. Another benefit of TomoTherapy® is the length of field in the body that can be treated, unlike other treatment machines that are more restricted. For example, the entire spine can be treated at one time using TomoTherapy®.   

High Dose Rate Brachytherapy

With brachytherapy, a small radioactive source is temporarily placed inside certain types of tumors for a precision-oriented approach. Brachytherapy requires a high level of expertise, and many radiation oncology centers do not offer it. Hoag recently invested in a new specialized hybrid applicator that will increase our capabilities in treating gynecologic cancers with brachytherapy—particularly advanced cervical cancer—which is more effectively treated with radiation than with surgery.

Treatment Planning System  

Treatment planning software is critical in designing each patient’s radiation therapy plan. Patient cases are not always clear-cut due to previous radiation treatment and other factors, which must be considered in treatment planning. Hoag has invested in the most sophisticated treatment planning system available, which uses information gathered from MRI, PET, CT, and X-ray images to create 3D models of a patient’s tumor and anatomy. Using a virtual reality environment, the team can make decisions about how best to deliver the dose of radiation to the targeted area.  


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