Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

In some facilities, radiation oncologists are using image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) to help them better deliver the radiation dose to the cancer. Normal structures and tumors can move between treatments due to differences in organ filling or movements while breathing. IGRT is conformal radiation treatment guided by imaging equipment, such as CT, ultrasound or stereoscopic X-rays, taken in the treatment room just before the patient is given the radiation treatment. All patients first undergo a CT scan as part of the planning process. The digital information from the CT scan is then transmitted to console in the treatment room to allow doctors to compare the earlier image with the images taken just before treatment. During IGRT, doctors “fuse” these images to see if the treatment needs to be changed. This allows doctors to better target the cancer while avoiding nearby healthy tissue. In some cases, doctors will implant a tiny piece of material called a fiducial marker near or in the tumor to help them localize the tumor during IGRT.