The future of MRI in radiation therapy: Challenges and opportunities for the MR community

Magn Reson Med. 2022 Dec;88(6):2592-2608. doi: 10.1002/mrm.29450. Epub 2022 Sep 21.


Radiation therapy is a major component of cancer treatment pathways worldwide. The main aim of this treatment is to achieve tumor control through the delivery of ionizing radiation while preserving healthy tissues for minimal radiation toxicity. Because radiation therapy relies on accurate localization of the target and surrounding tissues, imaging plays a crucial role throughout the treatment chain. In the treatment planning phase, radiological images are essential for defining target volumes and organs-at-risk, as well as providing elemental composition (e.g., electron density) information for radiation dose calculations. At treatment, onboard imaging informs patient setup and could be used to guide radiation dose placement for sites affected by motion. Imaging is also an important tool for treatment response assessment and treatment plan adaptation. MRI, with its excellent soft tissue contrast and capacity to probe functional tissue properties, holds great untapped potential for transforming treatment paradigms in radiation therapy. The MR in Radiation Therapy ISMRM Study Group was established to provide a forum within the MR community to discuss the unmet needs and fuel opportunities for further advancement of MRI for radiation therapy applications. During the summer of 2021, the study group organized its first virtual workshop, attended by a diverse international group of clinicians, scientists, and clinical physicists, to explore our predictions for the future of MRI in radiation therapy for the next 25 years. This article reviews the main findings from the event and considers the opportunities and challenges of reaching our vision for the future in this expanding field.

Keywords: ISMRM workshop; MR; future; radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Motion
  • Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted* / methods