Department of Radiation Oncology

Patients & Families - Treatment Options

  • Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT)
  • High Dose Rate(HDR) Brachytherapy
  • Low Dose Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy
  • Intravascular Brachytherapy
  • Prostate Seed Implant
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery
  • Total Body Irradiation
  • Mammosite Brachytherapy
  • Tomotherapy (IMRT)
  • Gamma Knife

Stereotactic whole-body radiation therapy (SBRT)

Also called stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR), SBRT is a treatment option for some patients that delivers a lethal dose to the target in fewer visits.  This is made possible by precise targeting of the tumor aided by a CT scan taken of the treatment site while the patient rests on the treatment machine.  This in-room CT scan allows the radiation oncology team to visualize the target and align it precisely with the treatment beams.  Only after the physician is satisfied with the target alignment is the treatment delivered.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

IMRT is a complex delivery technique that uses multiple beam angles and many small and irregularly shaped beams to deliver a radiation dose to a target.  While each beam delivers a non-uniform dose, the result of all the beams added together is uniform.  The complexity of the delivery allows uniquely shaped distributions of radiation dose that can spare healthy tissue while treating a target located nearby.  This selectivity aids in preserving the function of healthy tissues and reduces side effects.

Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT)

Sometimes referred to as RapidArc®, this treatment option is very similar to IMRT except that the treatment is delivered while the radiation beam rotates around the patient.  This complex technique delivers high quality treatments in less time.  Spending less time on the treatment table is not only more comfortable for the patient, but has also been associated with decreasing targeting precision in some treatment sites.

Tomotherapy

Tomotherapy delivers IMRT treatments in a helical pattern around the patient in order to achieve complex distributions of radiation dose.  Tomotherapy functions similar to a regular CT scanner where the treatment table carries the patient through the beam that is continuously rotating.  This allows Tomotherapy to treat very long treatment areas, an ability unique to this modality.

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

IGRT is the application of imaging techniques to more precisely align the target with the treatment beams on a more frequent basis.  Typically, the irreproducibility of a patient’s treatment position on a day-to-day basis must be accounted for by including a small ring of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor in the target.  When IGRT is used, in combination with an external beam treatment technique, the precision of the tumor targeting increases and the volume of healthy tissue included in the target may be reduced.  IGRT is carried out by taking planar x-rays or CT scans with the patient in the treatment position on the treatment machine.  The radiation therapists, under supervision of the radiation oncologist, then make adjustments to the patient position to improve the target alignment.  The intent of this extra step before treatment is to reduce the risk of side effects and verify the delivery of radiation to the tumor.

Disclaimer

Your Radiation Oncologist will discuss treatment options with you suitable for your individual needs.  The options presented here only highlight some of many ways that patients may receive high quality care at MUSC.