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3-D Conformal Radiotherapy

Providence uses customized radiotherapy cancer treatments to help you regain control of your life. At the forefront of cancer care technology, 3-D conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT) has become a go-to method in treating many cancers.

3-D conformal radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses precise three-dimensional scans of tumors to deliver more focused and accurate high-dose radiation.

By using 3-D imaging and a dedicated radiation machine (linear accelerator), oncologists are able to deliver radiation beams conformed to the precise size, shape and depth of cancerous tumors in order to destroy cancer cells.

Unlike average and conventional radiotherapeutic treatments, 3-D CRT allows doctors to administer radiation from several directions and at higher dosages, while reducing harm and minimizing side effects to surrounding vital organs and healthy tissue.

3-D conformal radiation therapy is a treatment customized to fit your needs. Before continual sessions begin, you will undergo a variety of scans and procedures to help determine how doctors will best treat your specific situation. These possible tests include CT, PET and MRI scans.

The purpose of the digital scans is to have a dataset that is shared, analyzed and assessed by your entire team of oncologists and caregivers. The tests are the first step in constructing your personalized treatment plan.

As your 3-D CRT treatment begins, calibration and diagnostic procedures are put in place. These may include a body mold and a small freckle-sized tattoo. The tattoo helps the radiation equipment align to the targeted area, and the body mold comfortably assists you in maintaining a still position on the treatment table while receiving radiation. These procedures are meant to ensure precision, accuracy and consistency throughout each therapy session. 

Each radiation therapy session runs like a CT or MRI scan. Your radiotherapist positions you on the treatment table surrounded by the linear accelerator.  Once the machine is ready to deliver the radiation, your radiation therapist will exit the room. Your therapist will maintain contact with you over a microphone and intercom at all times should you need anything. 

The radiation machine (linear accelerator) delivers radiation through circular motions around your body, calibrated and conformed to the exact position of your tumor. 

The sessions are pain free and often short. After your first session, which is typically the longest session to ensure precise calibration of machinery, each subsequent session rarely lasts more than 25 minutes.

Sometimes, cancerous tissues and tumors are too close to vital organs to risk treating with conventional radiation therapy. But with 3-D CRT, doctors can accurately target the tumor while minimizing exposure and sparing vital adjacent organs. Even with this level of precision surrounding tissue may be damaged, although this is very rare. Some complications are also possible during your sessions: reactions to radiation include dryness or itching of the skin over the target, soreness and nausea.