IMRT lets Astera Radiation Oncology doctors deliver the optimal radiation dose with minimal side effects.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a non-invasive procedure used to treat patients with a number of different kinds of cancer. Using a high-precision radiation targeting system, IMRT enables Astera Radiation Oncology specialists to maximize the radiation delivered to tumors while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. With years of specialized training and clinical success using this technology, our doctors are able to provide the best possible outcomes.
How IMRT works.
IMRT is delivered by specially equipped linear accelerators that are guided by a sophisticated computer system. The radiation beam generated by the IMRT system is shaped by 120 computer-controlled multi-leaf collimators, or “fingers,” that allow exquisite conformality (adherence to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor). Whereas traditional radiation treatments were delivered by four to six separate beams, IMRT employs hundreds of beams to precisely kill tumor cells.
IMRT’s pinpoint accuracy has several vital advantages for cancer patients. It allows our radiation oncologists to deliver the maximum dose to the targeted tumor while simultaneously minimizing healthy surrounding tissues from unnecessary exposure. As such, this theoretically will translate into higher local cure rates and fewer side effects from radiation treatments.
IMRT is helpful in the treatment of multiple types of cancer.
While IMRT has been employed successfully to treat many types of cancers, its benefits are apparent for prostate, lung, gastrointestinal, gynecological and head and neck cancer patients.
- Prostate Cancer – Prostate cancer cells are relatively radio-resistant and require high doses for effective cure. This dose requirement is also compounded by the prostate’s precarious anatomical location, as it is flanked by radiation-sensitive structures, such as the bladder and the rectum. Hence, IMRT allows for conformal dose delivery while minimizing the dose to the non-target tissues. Potential benefits of prostate IMRT include higher cure rates highlighted by lower chances of rectal bleeding and urinary complications.
- Head and Neck Cancers – IMRT has also been proven to decrease side effects in patients with head and neck cancers treated with IMRT. Studies comparing IMRT to standard radiation showed less xerostomia (dryness of the mouth), less pain with swallowing, and fewer long-term complications. At Astera Radiation Oncology, our techniques allow less radiation to be delivered to vital structures of the head and neck region involved in producing saliva and swallowing.
- Breast Cancer – Breast cancer is another disease that may benefit from the unique attributes of IMRT. Particularly with cancers of the left breast, which lies above the heart, IMRT offers an excellent therapeutic option. It allows a conformal dose distribution around the breast while minimizing any dose to the myocardium. Consequently, potential long-term complications like cardiovascular disease and pericarditis can be minimized.
- Brain Cancer – Brain tumor treatments are also being revolutionized by IMRT therapy. In particular, Astera Radiation Oncology’s use of BrainLab’s micromulti-leaf system allows the most sophisticated radiation treatments to the central nervous system. Brain tumors are often irregularly shaped and almost always lie adjacent to vital non-target structures. IMRT’s elegant dose distribution is therefore ideal for brain treatments.