Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) gives radiation therapists the ability to "sculpt" the edges of a tumor, minimizing the damage to adjacent healthy tissue.
Tumors are irregularly shaped, but conventional radiation treatments deliver radiation in straight lines. This means that, while the whole tumor is treated, any healthy tissue close to the tumor may get treated as well. IMRT technology allows the radiation oncologist to deliver radiation to a tumor with more precision and accuracy, resulting in the potential for fewer side effects and higher cure rates.
What can I expect during my IMRT session?
IMRT planning for a patient with head and neck cancer; IMRT allows treatment of the tumor with minimal damage to healthy tissue.
- Your radiation oncologist will use 3D computerized scans to visually chart the location of the tumor and surrounding normal tissue.
- Once charted, the physicist uses the information to create a virtual reality simulation to plot your radiation treatment targeting the exact shape of the tumor. An optimal plan can require hours of calculations.
- Once the physicist plots the target, the treatment plan is then sent back to the Cancer Center.
- It's transferred electronically to a linear accelerator, the machine used to deliver radiation treatments.
- Radiation beams are delivered in approximately 300 different segments, focusing the radiation on the tumor, while minimizing the dose passing through normal tissue.
What are the benefits of IMRT?
Standard radiation therapy affects both cancerous and normal surrounding tissue, causing side effects such as severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and mouth and throat ulcers.
With IMRT technology, patients experience significantly lower treatment-related side effects. IMRT also offers the potential for higher cure rates.
Who provides this treatment at UPMC CancerCenter?
IMRT is available at many UPMC CancerCenter radiation oncology network locations.