IMAGE-GUIDED RADIATION THERAPY
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is a type of Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). However, it uses imaging scans not only for treatment planning before radiation therapy sessions but also during radiation therapy sessions.
Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy
There are many types of external beam radiation therapy, all of which share the goal of delivering the highest prescribed dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the normal tissue around it. Each type relies on a computer to analyze images of the tumor in order to calculate the most precise dose and treatment path possible.
What to Expect When Having Image-Guided Radiation Therapy
How Does IGRT Work?
During treatment, you will have repeated scans, such as CT, MRI, or PET scans. These scans are processed by computers to detect changes in the tumor’s size and location. The repeated imaging allows for your position or the radiation dose to be adjusted during treatment if needed. These adjustments can improve the accuracy of treatment and help spare normal tissue.
How Often You Will Have Image-Guided Radiation Therapy
Most people have treatment once a day, Monday through Friday. The number of treatments varies from person to person based on details about your cancer, such as the type and stage of the cancer and the size and location of the tumor.
What to Wear for Your Treatments
Wear clothes that are comfortable and made of soft fabric, such as fleece or cotton. Choose clothes that are easy to take off, since you may need to expose the treatment area or change into a hospital gown. Do not wear clothes that are tight, such as close-fitting collars or waistbands, near your treatment area. Also, do not wear jewelry, adhesive bandages, or powder in the treatment area.
What Happens During a Treatment Session
The radiation therapist will leave the room just before your treatment begins. He or she will go to a nearby room to control the radiation machine. The therapist watches you on a TV screen or through a window and talks with you through a speaker in the treatment room. Make sure to tell the therapist if you feel sick or are uncomfortable. He or she can stop the radiation machine at any time. You will hear the radiation machine and see it moving around, but you won’t be able to feel, hear, see, or smell the radiation.
Most visits last from 30 minutes to an hour, with most of that time spent placing you in the correct position.