Patients undergoing cancer treatment in Belgium can now receive a new form of radiotherapy which is more precise in the way it targets tumours.
Offered at the University Hospital at Leuven, the treatment, known as image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), uses x-ray imaging to locate and focus beams more closely onto tumours.
High quality images of the tumour are obtained at the time of treatment, thereby enabling staff to quickly reposition patients on the treatment couch without having to re-enter the treatment room and make time-consuming adjustments.
Previously, staff were forced to treat a substantial amount of healthy tissue around the tumour in order to contend with variations in patient positioning and the movement caused by breathing.
"This is a major benefit because it means these improved imaging techniques can be introduced without putting too much pressure on the system," commented Dr Karin Haustermans, professor in radiation oncology.
In addition, the revolutionary new technology could one day be used to note changes in tumour size and shape over the course of treatment.
Belgium has become a popular overseas medical tourism destination among British patients, as its high standard of care and easy access via Eurostar make it both convenient and affordable.
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