Intensity-modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) leverages a combination of multiple radiation beams with dynamic shaping of the radiation intensity to uniquely match radiation to the size and shape of the tumor. This technique allows our physicians to deliver a higher dose of radiation to the tumor with less damage to nearby healthy tissue. IMRT can shape the radiation dose such that it avoids as much of the normal organs as possible while delivering a large dose to the tumor.
IMRT is commonly used in cancers of the head and neck where many critical structures that may be near the tumor, such as the spinal cord and the salivary glands, must be avoided. It has also been shown to be a beneficial treatment for prostate cancer because it significantly decreases the risk of rectal bleeding and provides the opportunity for dose escalation to decrease the likelihood of developing metastatic prostate cancer.
One type of IMRT commonly used by our department is called volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT). In this method, the linear accelerator rotates around the patient while simultaneously delivering the radiation, thus increasing the number of angles and decreasing the high dose radiation to normal tissues. This approach is typically used for head and neck cancers, brain tumors, GI cancers, prostate cancers, and lung cancers.
For those seeking a more detailed technical description of IMRT modalities, the following describes techniques commonly performed at our institution with regard to prostate and head and neck cancers:
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