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Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT)

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Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) in Staten Island, NY

Cancer research is always advancing, offering new ways to deliver targeted treatments. Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), also known as image-guided radiation therapy, is one method that oncologists are using to provide more precise and customized cancer care.

Located in Staten Island, New York, Richmond University Medical Center offers cutting-edge cancer care for patients throughout the surrounding area at its Center for Cancer Care. The oncology team is experienced in treating a wide range of cancers through radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and more. Learn more about IGRT, how it works, and the types of cancer it can treat.

What Is Image Guided Radiotherapy?

Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) is a form of cancer treatment that uses advanced imaging technology. In the past, oncologists would determine the stage of a patient’s cancer and take images before beginning treatment, using this information to plan an entire course of treatment. While staging and imaging still follow diagnosis, imaging tools are now used throughout the treatment process. With ongoing, up-to-date information from imaging tests, oncology teams can provide more accurate and effective cancer treatment.

Cancerous tumors can alter in shape and size during a course of radiation. With imaging guidance, oncologists can adjust treatment in response to these changes in the tumor. They will use a variety of imaging technologies, including:

  • Ultrasounds
  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computer tomography (CT) scans

How IGRT Is Used to Treat Cancer

IGRT is now the standard of care in radiation therapy. With IGRT, oncologists can use imaging results to better target tumors that may have changed or moved during treatment. This minimizes the damage to surrounding healthy tissue and can improve treatment outcomes.

Before beginning cancer treatment, a patient will typically have a series of tests to inform their treatment plan. If radiation therapy is recommended, they will have a schedule of appointments over several weeks or months. Before each radiation session, additional imaging tests will be completed. These real-time scans are used to help radiation oncologists decide if a treatment plan needs to be adjusted.

The benefits of IGRT include:

  • Precision: Because IGRT helps pinpoint a tumor, providers can use higher doses of radiation to kill cancer cells.
  • Fewer side effects: This precision also means that patients may experience fewer radiation side effects.
  • Protecting healthy cells: IGRT targets cancer more effectively while sparing healthy tissue around the tumor.

IGRT is used in all kinds of cancer treatments. However, it is particularly useful in treating tumors that are located near sensitive organs or are likely to move during treatment.

What to Expect During Treatment

During a radiation therapy session, a patient is positioned on a treatment table. A medical provider will take scans to ensure the patient is properly positioned. They may use MRIs, CT scans, or other types of imaging to verify the treatment area. They may also use ultrasound guidance to place tiny metal implants, known as fiducial markers, which help to pinpoint specific tumor locations.

Once the patient is ready for treatment, a provider will operate a machine that delivers precise doses of radiation. The radiation is not painful. The patient may hear buzzing or beeping noises as the radiation machine moves around. Each session is relatively short. Often patients have radiation therapy sessions five days per week over several weeks. At each session, the medical team will continually review imaging scans to adapt the patient’s treatment as needed.

Types of Cancer Treated with IGRT

Oncologists utilize IGRT to treat several different types of cancer, including:

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can develop in one or both breasts. There are several types of breast cancer, including:

  • Lobular carcinoma
  • Ductal carcinoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)
  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Paget’s disease of the breast

Using IGRT to treat breast cancer helps protect the heart and lungs by minimizing their radiation exposure.

Lung Cancer

The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is much more common, but smoking is a major risk factor for both types of lung cancer. Lung tumors can naturally move as a patient breathes in and out. IGRT is often used in lung cancer treatment because it helps pinpoint tumors that can move during or between treatments.

Prostate Cancer

Treating prostate cancer can be challenging because the prostate gland tends to shift. Because it is located near the rectum and the bladder, the prostate can be pushed in different directions if the bladder is full or the rectum has gas or stool. Before IGRT, radiation oncologists had to treat a larger perimeter around the prostate. Now, they can shrink those margins and deliver more targeted doses of radiation.

Choose Richmond University Medical Center for Cancer Care

Patients seeking cancer treatment will find a range of options at Richmond University Medical Center’s Center for Cancer Care. Serving individuals throughout Staten Island, NY, the board-certified oncologists at Richmond University Medical Center deliver personalized care. Using technology like IGRT, immunotherapy, and linear accelerator (LINAC) therapy, the medical team can deliver the best possible outcomes. For more information about IGRT and other forms of cancer treatment, contact us today.