In certain locations in the body, such as the lungs, tumors can move as the patient breathes. In the past, this movement has confounded doctors ability to precisely map the tumor location and to accurately deliver radiation therapy. By integrating respiratory gating software into the treatment plan, doctors can define a physical window similar to a baseball strike zone, and quickly take tumor images or deliver radiation only when the tumor passes through that region.
Respiratory gating is often combined with intensity modulated radiation therapy to deliver precise doses of radiation to tumor sites. By ensuring that radiation is focused on the tumor, doctors are able to spare more of the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. This is particularly useful for tumors near the lungs, where radiation-induced scarring can impair future breathing.