Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) for Cancer Treatment
At Garnet Health, we are proud to offer Varian RapidArc Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT). This technology allows our on-site radiation oncologists to precisely treat tumors and limit exposing healthy tissue to unnecessary radiation, which ultimately translates into faster outpatient treatments, greater patient comfort, and the potential for better outcomes with fewer side effects.
Precise Treatment with Tumor Position Verification Technology
IGRT helps our skilled and experienced team of experts clearly see, precisely target, effectively and safely treat tumors while carefully tracking them and limiting radiation exposure to surrounding tissue and vital organs. Tumors can move during treatment and between treatments, for various reasons, including:
- Tissues, organs, and many tumors are not rigidly fixed in one position; they move around inside the body due to natural physiological processes
- Tumors can move several centimeters due to a patient’s normal respiratory cycle
- Due to day-to-day variations in patient setup
For this reason, they are not always in the exact same position each time a patient is positioned for treatment. Varian RapidArc IGRT offers clinicians advanced imaging techniques to verify patient position and tumor position at the time of treatment.
Knowing the exact tumor location allows clinicians to reduce the amount of tissue treated. The tumor can be more accurately targeted, sparing more of the surrounding healthy tissue, reducing side effects, and ultimately, improving a patient’s quality of life. In some cases, it makes it possible to deliver higher radiation doses to the tumor, increasing the likelihood of local tumor control.
How Image Guided Radiation Therapy Works
For Varian RapidArc IGRT, the medical linear accelerator, or treatment machine, is outfitted with a number of sophisticated imaging devices that provide the clinician with images that help to guide the treatment.
An X-ray system mounted on a robotic arm is rotated around the body to gather images that pinpoint a tumor’s exact location just prior to treatment. These images are then compared with reference images (previous MRI, CT or other kinds of scans the patient has had) in order to determine if the tumor is where it is expected to be, or off by some margin. Sophisticated software programs calculate how to move the patient so that the tumor is directly in the center of the treatment beam.
Compared to other technologies, the Varian RapidArc IGRT advances the standard of care with speed, precise treatment, patient comfort, less side effects with better outcomes.
- Treatments with Varian RapidArc radiation therapy take only a few minutes a day with most treatments completed in under two minutes
- RapidArc IGRT technology can improve patient comfort by dramatically reducing the amount of time patients spend on the treatment couch
- A faster treatment combined with high precision minimizes the possibility of tumor movement during treatment
- Since RapidArc radiation therapy technology is fast, clinicians have the opportunity to spend more time and focused attention with each patient
Through more precise targeting of the beam with IGRT, dosage levels can be increased and target volumes (the three-dimensional areas to receive treatment) can be reduced—so tumors get a higher dose of radiation and surrounding tissues get very little. This preserves a patient’s healthy tissue and organs.
Imaging and tracking technologies that are used in delivering IGRT enable doctors to treat tumors even if they are close to vital structures like the spinal column, salivary glands, heart, or lungs. This can mean substantially fewer side effects and a much better post-treatment quality of life.