Cancer patients’ range of treatment options is now even better, thanks to image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) now available at Decatur Memorial Hospital.
This new technology can precisely locate a tumor and track it before each radiation therapy treatment.
“This improves treatment accuracy, minimizes the amount of healthy tissue exposed to radiation and reduces other side effects,” says Edward C. Elliott, MD, Medical Director, DMH Radiation Oncology.
DMH recently installed Varian’s Clinac iX Linear Accelerator which includes an on-board imaging device in a robotically controlled arm. Before each radiation treatment, the on-board imager uses low-energy X-rays to precisely pinpoint a tumor site giving clinicians high-resolution digital images.
“Standard radiation therapy is sometimes limited by normal shifts within the patient’s body or weight gain or loss during the course of treatment,” Dr. Elliott says. “When tissues and organs shift, it means the target location for radiation may be altered.”
But, the on-board imager identifies even minute shifts in tumor locations before a patient receives a radiation treatment, enabling medical personnel to correct for those shifts from a remote location.
Additional technologies used with IGRT to plan a patient’s course of radiation therapy include CT (Computed Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography)
“Fortunately, we have all of these imaging technologies available here, which gives our treatment team the ability to deliver radiation therapy with pinpoint accuracy throughout the patient’s entire course of therapy,” says John Ridley, Administrative Director, DMH Radiation Oncology.
Even with all these advanced technologies, the standard treatment time stays the same and less radiation is used for more effective treatment.
The IGRT system complements DMH’s IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy system. IMRT helps shape the radiation beam to precisely fit the contours of the tumor.