Conformal radiation therapy is a type of external beam radiation therapy. For this procedure, the same type of machine used for regular radiotherapy treatment is combined with a specialized device called a multi-leaf collimator.
Conformal radiation may also aim the radiation beams from several directions to better target the tumour and spare more of the nearby structures than conventional radiation therapy.
Conformal radiation therapy allows higher doses of radiation to be given to the tumour. The surrounding normal tissue receives less radiation, which lessens the chances of side effects. Conformal radiation is used to treat many cancers. It is especially useful if the tumour is close to important organs or body structures because high doses of radiation can be given with little risk to healthy tissue.
Computed tomography (CT) scansComputed tomography (CT) scansAn imaging technique that uses a computer to put a series of x-ray images together to create a 3-dimensional picture of organs, tissues, bones and blood vessels inside the body. A contrast medium may be injected to make organs and structures show up clearly on the x-ray images. or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)An imaging technique that uses a magnetic field to produce pictures of areas inside the body. A contrast medium may be injected into the body to make structures and organs show up clearly on the image. are used to create a precise 3-dimensional (3-D) image of the tumour. The exact shape of the tumour is programmed into a computer and used to plan radiation treatment. The computer model of the tumour is used to set the multi-leaf collimators so the radiation beams match the shape of the tumour.
There are 2 main types of conformal radiation therapy: