The revolutionary machine combines two technologies — an MRI scanner and a state-of-the-art radiotherapy system — to precisely locate tumours and deliver doses of radiation with more accuracy.

It could be especially effective for cancers which move during radiotherapy or change position between scanning and treatment — for instance through breathing, bladder filling or bowel changes.

In order to test the machine’s image quality, researchers at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research scanned a dead crab. They chose a crab as it symbolises cancer in the astrology world and features in The Royal Marsden crest.

Other countries with an MR Linac also scanned iconic objects to test image quality — the first Australian MR Linac imaged a piece of kangaroo meat, while the Netherlands scanned tulips and Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center scanned a T-bone steak.


The system is being tested before the first patients are treated later this year, initially through clinical studies in hard-to-treat cancer types.

The UK’s first MR Linac — and fourth in the world — was installed last year at The Royal Marsden and the ICR in Sutton, and was officially opened in November 2016 by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.