What is IGRT?

IGRT is the abbreviation for Image Guided Radiotherapy.

Image Guided Radiotherapy

Approximately 40% of people with cancer have radiotherapy as part of their treatment. While damaging cancer cells, radiation can also affect surrounding healthy cells if they are not directed with a high degree of accuracy and precision.

Traditionally, imaging technology has been used to produce three-dimensional scan of the patient’s anatomy to identify the exact location of the cancer tumour prior to treatment. However, difficulty arises when trying to administer the radiation, since cancer tumours are constantly moving within the body (for example, from movement caused by breathing). Hence, the exact location of the tumour may have changed between the time of scan and actual treatment.

Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) uses ultrasound, electronic portal imaging, or CT technology to verify the tumour location daily prior to treatment. tumour tissues can move both during a radiation treatment session and from one treatment session to another as a result of normal internal organ action (digestion, elimination and breathing) and small differences in the way the patient is positioned for treatment. If these changes move the tumour out of the planned treatment range, the tumour may not receive the full amount of radiation that it should or normal tissues may receive more radiation than desire. Using IGRT allows practitioners to account for tumour movement prior to each treatment and optimize treatment accuracy.

Benefits of IGRT

  • Safely delivering higher, more effective dose of radiation
  • Offers new hope to patients with difficult to treat tumours such as those next to a vital organ or other hard to reach area
  • Helps limit the amount of radiation delivered to healthy tissue around the tumour because tighter margins can be prescribed
  • Allows the physician to deliver doses of radiation to the tumour because of these tighter margins
  • Reduce side effects and improve the quality of life for patients
  • Shortening the overall treatment period