What is volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)?
Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) is a form of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The therapy works by delivering a very precise dose of radiation for the treatment of tumours. With the use of very advanced technology and software, the radiation is delivered to the tumour with a linear accelerator in a 360-degree rotation in a very short space of time. The radiation is delivered continuously as the machine rotates, carefully targeting the tumour with minimal damage to the surrounding tissues and organs.
How does it work?
VMAT can be used to treat many types of cancer, and is generally recommended for the treatment of tumours that are close to very sensitive organs.
Because the treatment requires a very high level of accuracy and technical skill, most of the session is used to ensure that you are positioned properly. X-rays are done to make sure that your position is correct before the treatment begins.
During the treatment, the radiation is delivered in a continuous beam that moves around the entire tumour. The beam of radiation changes shape as it moves, while the dosage is also automatically adjusted according to the area of the tumour that is being targeted.
Each treatment session lasts between two and four minutes.
Are there any side-effects?
The treatment is painless, and you should not feel any discomfort during the session. Some patients experience radiation side-effects after the treatment, including hair loss, digestive problems, headaches, nausea, vomiting, swelling in the treatment area, and urinary and bladder changes. Your oncologist will advise you of the best ways to manage any side-effects and guide you through any questions and concerns you may have with the process.