IGRT and IMRT for Prostate Cancer Treatment
Patients with more aggressive or advanced stages of cancer have a higher than ideal risk of cancer outside the prostate. This is an area beyond the surgeon’s reach. External radiation delivered from a high-energy X-ray machine called a linear accelerator can help treat just outside the prostate, where the prostate cancer cells may reside. Using the latest computer technology, the prostate can be precisely targeted within the body, and radiation can be safely delivered.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) takes IMRT one step further. To accomplish this, we use various technologies such as BAT ® ultrasound imaging, Acculoc ® tracking of implanted fiducials, or Cone-beam ® CT scans before each daily treatment, to acquire an image of the prostate and surrounding anatomy. The goal is to detect any slight change in position of the prostate gland that may result from movement or variations in filling of the bladder or rectum. Using this information, the computer adjusts the radiation beam accordingly in order to precisely target the treatment to your prostate’s position that day. It is the latest and most advanced system for the delivery of radiation, allowing much greater precision than proton therapy. This allows us to further maximize the radiation does to the prostate and minimize the dose to the surrounding normal organs.
Prior to beginning this treatment, our patients undergo a CT scan of the pelvis in the Radiation Oncology department. This scan is used to create a customized plan, tailored to fit each patient’s anatomy precisely. The IGRT is typically given for only a few minutes a day, five days a week. When combined with a seed implant, this part of the treatment is approximately five weeks long. If given alone, without a seed implant, the treatment is typically for eight weeks. Radiation treatment is completely painless and non-invasive. During treatment, the most commonly reported side effects are slight fatigue and having to go to the bathroom more frequently. You will NOT develop any nausea, abdominal pain, hair loss, or skin burning. You will NOT lose your ability to control your bowels or bladder. You will be able to continue working full-time and should enjoy all of your regular activities.