Prior to your treatment, you will meet with your doctor for a consultation and treatment simulation. During the simulation, your treatment area will be measured and marked. This ensures that the radiation is delivered to the same area with each treatment. Markings may be made on your skin with bright temporary paint or small tattoos. Special blocks or shields may be fabricated to keep the radiation from contacting healthy tissue and shape the radiation beam for treatment.
Headrests, molds, casts, and other devices may be created to keep your body in position during treatment. Sophisticated IGRT technology can adjust for small movements caused by breathing during treatment or internal processes, such as digestion. It is common to have a computed tomography (CT) scan during simulation to help prepare the overall treatment plan. A CT scan is a painless imaging test that simply requires that you remain motionless.
In the majority of cases, IGRT is an outpatient treatment. IGRT treatments are usually delivered five days a week for three to ten weeks. Radiation treatments may be received once or more each day. The amount of radiation that you receive depends on many factors, such as the size, shape, type, and location of your cancer tumor.
Prior to each treatment, imaging tests will depict the size, shape, and location of your tumor. Your doctor will use the information to prescribe your radiation each day. It may take several minutes to position your body for treatment. IGRT is painless. You will have a microphone to communicate with the radiation therapist at all times. In most cases, people can return to work or resume their regular activities after a treatment.