Radiation therapy is one of the crucial treatment options for various types of malignant tumors. Over the years, it has undergone great evolution which leads to improved spatial preciseness and optimized radiation dosage. In the second International Conference on Advances in Radiation Oncology last month, advanced treatment technologies such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) were in the spotlight. The increasing use of these technologies has significantly improved the quality of life for cancer patients around the globe.
Unlike the traditional radiation therapy, IMRT utilizes computing applications to perform dose optimization and simulate treatment so that radiation process can be highly tailored to the individual patient. During the procedure, an x-ray accelerator delivers a precise pattern of radiation to tumors or microvasculature that feed tumors. IGRT is a technology further developed based on IMRT: it combines imaging modality with modulated radiation intensity so that quality treatment can be achieved under the guidance of real time images of cancer tissues.
Stereotactic radiation therapy is another type of advanced external radiation treatment and often uses different types of radiation (gamma ray, x-ray or proton beam). The term stereotactic means the virtual target from diagnostic images and the actual target in the human body is accurately correlated in a three-dimensional manner for the best outcome of the treatment. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is designed to target tumors in brain or spine and only gives a single dose of radiation but with high intensity. It does not involve incision or removal of cancer tissues despite the word “surgery” in its name. Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) deals with tumors in other parts of the body. In SBRT smaller doses are given to the patient throughout multiple sessions until a desired total dose is achieved.
Video credit: Nucleus Medical Media