IGRT (Image Guided Radiation Therapy)
IGRT, or image guided radiation therapy, is a technique in which frequent imaging is used to enhance accuracy throughout the course of a patient’s radiation treatment. Imaging equipment may be built into the machine that delivers high-energy radiation beams (linear accelerator) or mounted nearby in the treatment room. After reviewing images captured prior to or during a patient’s treatment session and comparing them to previously captured images (including those taken during the pre-treatment simulation process), a radiation oncologist can adjust the patient’s treatment plan or body positioning as necessary to optimize the further delivery of radiation therapy.
IGRT makes it possible for a radiation therapist to narrowly focus powerful radiation beams on a targeted tumor, even as the tumor shrinks over time or moves during a patient’s natural breathing cycle. As a result, image guided radiation therapy can help ensure the safe administration of the highest radiation treatment dosage prescribed for a patient. As compared to traditional radiation therapy, some benefits of IGRT include:
- Increased precision
- Improved tumor monitoring and control
- Enhanced effectiveness
- Minimal exposure to healthy organs and tissues surrounding a targeted tumor
- Shorter treatment schedules
For these reasons, IGRT may be recommended for treating tumors that are located in close proximity to vital and sensitive organs, such as the heart and kidneys. Also, image guided radiation therapy can be useful for addressing tumors in parts of the body that are prone to movement, including the lungs, prostate and liver.
State-of-the-art technologies such as IGRT are vital to achieving continual improvement in patient outcomes and quality of life. However, the true difference lies not only in the equipment, but also in the team behind it. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our radiation oncologists and radiation therapists are members of a multispecialty tumor board of cancer experts. This collaborative group holds weekly conferences to review our patients’ cases, providing a unique and effective forum for our physicians to share ideas and obtain input. For instance, our team carefully reviews our patients’ IGRT imaging studies to ensure that the radiation therapy targets are precisely defined. Additionally, Moffitt’s patient-centric approach leads to highly individualized treatment in which the safety of radiation treatment delivery is a top priority.