3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy

What is 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy?

The Trilogy™ System: For Image-Guided Radiation Therapy And Stereotactic Applications
Radiation therapists assist a patient before treatment with our Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator.

3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D CRT) directs multiple X-ray beams at the unique shape and location of each tumor. Using this personalized approach, we can "shape" the beams, like stage lights illuminating a theatrical show. By shaping radiation beams to a target area, we can intensify the radiation dose while minimizing side effects, such as damage to healthy tissue. 3D CRT can target tumors with an accuracy of 2 to 3 millimeters, roughly the thickness of the lead inside a wooden pencil.

Why am I having 3D CRT?

3D CRT helps us map the treatment target within your body, then tailor the shape and intensity of the radiation beams delivered during your treatments. This way we can use more intense beams and limit damage to nearby healthy tissue.

What type of technology does 3D CRT use?

We use a Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator, housed in a dedicated treatment room. This 9-foot tall machine combines data from your imaging with instructions from our experts to generate the precise strength and shape of beams needed for your treatment. 

3D CRT can be combined with other technologies to further customize your treatment. These include surface-guided radiation therapy, respiration-gated synchronized treatment, or magnetic resonance imaging-guided radiation therapy.

What conditions are treated using 3D CRT?

3D CRT is the standard of care for many types of cancer. These may include brain, gynecological, head and neck, lung, and prostate tumors, as well as lymphoma and sarcoma.

What does 3D CRT treatment feel like?

Treatments themselves are fairly brief—just 10 to 15 minutes for most people—and the experience is similar to getting an X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan. You might hear the machine whirring or clanking as the linear accelerator gantry arm rotates around your body on the treatment couch, but it won’t touch you. You won’t feel, hear, see, smell, or taste the radiation beams as they pass through your body.

Your body’s natural movement—a sneeze or cough, the rise and fall of your lungs, even the beating of your heart—can affect the precise location of the tumor and the arrangement of healthy tissues and organs. We may use supports made during your planning appointment to help you hold your position during treatment.