1 What is an Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)?

An advanced type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer and noncancerous tumors is called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

This uses advanced technology to manipulate proton and photon beams of radiation to fit the shape of the tumor.

To precisely irradiate a tumor, this uses multiple small proton or photon beams of varying intensities and these intensities is controlled and the beam shape changes throughout each treatment.

To match the radiation does to target and to avoid and reduce exposure of healthy tissue to limit the side effects of the treatment is the main goal of IMRT.

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2 Reasons for Procedure

There are many reasons to decide to undergo an intensity-modulated radiation therapy.

IMRT is being used most extensively to treat prostate, neck and head cancer, and in central nervous system. In some cases, this is used to treat thyroid, breast, lung, gastrointestinal and gynecologic malignancies and some types of sarcomas.

This treatment will stop cancer cells from growing and dividing which can lead to slowing or stopping tumor growth.

3 Potential Risks

Just like in other beam radiation therapy treatments, you will not feel pain during the intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Potential risks of this treatment include problems that occur as a result of the treatment itself and from the radiation damage to healthy cells.

The severity of side effects that you may experience will depend on the dosage or type of radiation that you received.

The side effects can occur immediately after the treatment and will be gone within a few weeks. It includes:

4 Preparing for your Procedure

To prepare for the intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), your doctor will conduct a physical examination and medical history.

In some cases, the doctor will instruct a patient to follow a certain bladder and bowel preparation. You will undergo a CT scan to check the shape of the tumor and normal tissues.

Additional scanning such as PET and MRI scan may also be required so your doctor can determine the precise location of the tumor.

Sometimes the patient’s skin may be marked with colored ink to help align and target the equipment before the procedure.

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Your oncologist will consider the size, type, and location of the tumor as well as your overall health. The therapist will position you on a table guided by the marks on the skin.

You may be repositioned during the procedure and there may be imaging systems on the treatment machine to check positioning. This treatment usually takes up about 10 to 30 minutes.

6 Procedure Results

Understanding the results of your intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) will be made possible by your doctor.

There may be some late side effects which are rare and can occur months to years after the treatment such as:

  • Brain damages
  • Lung changes
  • Spinal cord changes
  • Kidney changes
  • Joint changes
  • Infertility
  • Lymphedema
  • Rectal and Colon changes
  • Secondary cancer

The IMRT will maximize the cancer-destroying capabilities of radiation treatment and at the same time minimize its effect on healthy organs and tissues.

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