What is 3D conformal radiation therapy?
3D conformal radiation therapy is an external beam radiation therapy that shapes the radiation beams to match the tumor
In the past, radiation beams can only shape to polygonal shape to match the tumor which risks exposing healthy tissue to radiation. Advances in imaging technology and the uses of multi leaf collimator (MLC) device have made it possible to conform and treat the tumour more precisely. Conformal radiation therapy uses the advanced imaging to provide more precise targeting information to focus precisely on the tumor, while avoiding the healthy surrounding tissue.
What to expect for 3D conformal radiation therapy?
Before starting treatment, you will have a radiotherapy planning (or simulation) session. The Radiation Therapists will take a 3D image of your tumor, often using Computed Tomography (CT) scan. During the planning session, the Radiation Therapists may make marks on your body to ensure reproducible positioning. Immobilization devices such as masks may be used if you are having treatment to your head and neck, and moulds for flexible body parts. This is to keep the treatment area completely still throughout treatment sessions.
Clinical Oncologist will proceed to delineate the target tumour and the surrounding organ at risk (OAR) based on CT scan, sometimes complemented by MRI and/or PET-CT scans. Next, Medical Physicist will optimize a treatment plan to effectively deliver prescribed radiation doses to the target tumour while minimizing the dose to OARs.
During your treatment, you will be guided into the treatment room where the Radiation Therapists will position you to the exact setup as during simulation. Once you are positioned at the right position, the Radiation Therapists will leave you alone in the room. Be rest assured that the Radiation Therapists are keeping an eye on you at all times through the closed-circuit television (CCTV). The Radiation Therapists are able to hear and talk to you through the two-way communication device installed in the room. You are required to remain still for 15 to 30 minutes. During the treatment, the machine may turn around you. This treatment is painless and safe.