Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
Image Guided Radiation Therapy is a treatment procedure to treat cancer with the help of frequent imaging course provided by an external machine equipped with image technology that improves the precision and accuracy of the treatment. IGRT is basically used to shrink tumors from any part of the body targeted with specialized computer software to make necessary adjustments in radiation beam and the patient’s position. It is a noninvasive cancer treatment where the patient does not feel any kind of pain during the procedure; however, some discomfort may be experienced after the treatment.
CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, x-ray and PET scan are some imaging tests used in the IGRT procedure to determine the exact position and the stage of the tumor and compare it after the treatment. IGRT is highly successful in treating breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and head and neck cancer.
During the procedure
The IGRT treatment is a course of several weeks where the patient will see the radiation oncologist on a regular basis. You will be placed on the LINAC, the machine that will give you the radiation treatment. At first, the radiation therapist will position you for the treatment and set the equipments carefully. Once you are positioned well, several imaging tests will be taken to ensure your treatment position and the therapist will move out of the room to avoid radiation exposure.
From there, he/she will monitor your signs through a television screen and interact with you via voice. If you feel any issue, pain or discomfort, you can express it to the radiation therapist. A CyberKnife machine consisting a robotic arm will provide radiation therapy from various angles at the patient’s defected area. During this, a tomotherapy machine will continuously take CT scans of your body. The whole procedure takes 15-45 minutes to complete. You will be required to visit the center for several weeks for radiation sessions, which may vary in time.
Radiation therapy does not cause any pain during the procedure, but it sure can cause many long term or short term side effects afterwards. Below are given some of the complications that may arise after the IGRT procedure.
- Hair loss
- Stomach and digestive issues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Urinary issues
- Bladder changes
- Mouth sores and difficult swallowing
- Secondary cancer
Post operative care
During the procedure, the patient will have regular blood tests and x-rays to see how well the body is responding to the treatment. In every session, adjustments will be made based on the results of the previous session.
Once the treatment is finished, you will need to visit your doctor for regular check ups where several imaging tests will performed to avoid any recurrence or new cancer.
You may not feel like eating, but in order to have a healthy recovery, you will need to follow a balanced diet.
Treatment complications are common after IGRT, but if the complications become too severe, notify the doctor at once.