Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

Author: Courtney Misher, MPH, BS R.T.(T)
Last Reviewed:

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) is the use of advanced imaging before or during treatment to deliver radiation safely and accurately to your tumor.

How is Image-Guided Radiation Therapy used?

IGRT is used to see changes in the size and location of your tumor throughout the treatment process. As the radiation works it may shrink your tumor. Images are taken and your treatment plan may be changed depending on the results. In other types of radiation, your treatment stays the same for your entire course. Often, the imaging equipment used for IGRT is mounted on or built into the radiation therapy machine used to deliver your treatment.

What can I expect during Image-Guided Radiation Therapy?

There are a few different types of IGRT that can be used. Some IGRT techniques may require:

  • X-ray, CT scan, PET, MRI, or ultrasound.
  • 3-D body surface mapping.
  • Skin markings.
  • Holding your breath for a certain amount of time.
  • Small seeds made of gold, plastic, or other material, called fiducial markers or electromagnetic transponders, may be put inside your body before treatment.

Imaging will be done each day before or during your radiation treatment session and then reviewed and compared to the previous images to make adjustments during your treatment. The treatment beams and/or your position may be changed to make sure radiation to the tumor is delivered and minimal radiation is given to healthy tissues. Your radiation will be given once you are in the ideal position for treatment. The imaging done will not hurt.

What are the benefits of Image-Guided Radiation Therapy?

The main benefit of IGRT is that it allows for precise delivery of the radiation. Some other benefits include:

  • The treatment plan can be adjusted to match the tumor position and size as the tumor responds to the radiation.
  • Decreased radiation to normal tissues resulting in fewer side effects.
  • Higher doses of radiation can be given that will likely increase treatment results.

Is IGRT right for me?

IGRT can be used if you have a tumor that is close to critical structures or organs in the body. It is also helpful when treating tumors that are in areas of the body that move, such as:

  • Lung cancer.
  • Liver cancer.
  • Pancreas cancer.
  • Prostate cancer.
  • Breast cancer.

There are many types of IGRT. Your radiation care team will talk to you about your treatment goals, type of tumor, the shape of your tumor, and where your tumor is when deciding which type of IGRT is best for you. Talk with your radiation care team about any questions or concerns you might have.

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