1 What is an Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)?

A method of radiation therapy which incorporates imaging techniques during each treatment session is called image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT).

To control cancer and noncancerous tumors, radiation therapy uses high-energy beams of radiation. With the help of the IGRT, the treatment will be focused on the treatment area.

There will be high-quality images taken before each radiation therapy treatment session when undergoing IGRT.

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2 Potential Risks

Compared with other types of radiation therapy, IGRT techniques have a less normal tissue so the risk of side effects is lower.

But just like any external beam radiotherapy, you can still have side effects that affect only the parts of the body where the treatment is aimed at.

3 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your image-guided radiation therapy, you must follow your doctor’s orders. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should tell their doctor first before undergoing IGRT.

Your doctor will use fiducial markers or electromagnetic transponders to place inside the body near the tumor. This is done to identify the area. Mostly this is done one week before the IGRT.

There are other possible preparations needed such as:

  • intensity modulated radiation therapy
  • 3-D conformal radiation therapy
  • stereotactic body radiotherapy
  • proton beam therapy

4 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT).

Your doctor will position you guided by the marks on the skin. Images are taken and other devices may be used to help you maintain the right position.

Your doctor will check the images and compare them to the images taken during simulation. Additional imaging may be performed.

Radiation therapy will be delivered after the necessary adjustments and if you are properly positioned. This procedure is painless. During the therapy, you may hear or see equipment moving around you.

Imaging specialists are maximizing the cancer-destroying capabilities of radiation treatment using techniques such as IGRT, and at the same time minimizing its effect on organs and healthy tissues.

5 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) results, consult with your doctor.

There are early side effects depending on the area being treated such as:

Late side effects that can happen years following treatment include:

  • spinal cord changes
  • brain changes
  • kidney changes
  • lung changes
  • infertility
  • rectal and colon changes
  • mouth changes
  • joint changes
  • lymphedema
  • secondary cancer