Radiation Therapy and IGRT |In medicine, radiation has been used to treat cancer and other abnormalities with good results for many years. Today it is prescribed in one form or another for half of all cancer patients. Medical radiation is nothing more than pure energy, delivered in beams. It works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells so that they can no longer reproduce. The physician prescribes the amount, or dose, of radiation and the method of administering it in much the same way as drugs are prescribed.
IGRT Treatment | IGRTis the most advanced form of radiation therapy currently available, in large part because it is so precise. Tumors can shift and move slightly between treatments, and even during treatment because of normal physiological processes, such as breathing. IGRT uses advanced imaging techniques to verify your position and your tumor's exact location at the moment of treatment. Knowing exactly where the tumor is allows clinicians to irradiate only the tumor, sparing the surrounding normal tissue. This accuracy results in higher radiation doses to the tumor and thereby the increased likelihood of controlling or eliminating the cancer. With IGRT, the full radiation dose can be delivered in one session or over a course of several treatment sessions. Most patients can be treated as outpatients, and can return home immediately after the procedure. IGRT is well suited to treating tumors virtually anywhere in the body including those areas that are affected by respiratory motion. It is now being used to treat tumors in the brain, breast, head and neck, lung, liver, prostate, and other areas.
The Technology Involved |Your doctor decides which form of treatment is best for you. In making this decision physicians look at many factors including the size, location, and type of tumor, as well as your overall state of health. Treatment requires certain key tools and technologies, such as specialized treatment planning software, a source of high-energy radiation, devices to shape the radiation beams, high-resolution imaging systems that can quickly track tumor motion, and quality assurance tools that check and fine-tune a patient's position relative to the radiation beam before treatment begins.
Treatment Planning Software | Sophisticated computer software and three-dimensional images of your lesion and surrounding anatomy indicate the optimal way of treating your condition. The resulting treatment plan-unique to you- specifies the number of radiation beams as well as the angles required to precisely deliver the radiation dose prescribed by your doctor without harming surrounding healthy tissue.
Medical Linear Accelerator | A specially equipped linear accelerator is used in your treatment. It is optimized to generate and deliver high radiation doses to very small targets with great accuracy.