What Is 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. IMRT is an advanced form of radiation therapy used in both cancerous and non-cancerous tumor treatments.
Tumors are irregularly shaped, but conventional radiation treatments deliver radiation in straight lines. This means that — while the whole tumor receives radiation — any healthy tissue close to the tumor may get radiation 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.
Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy Session: What to Expect
- Your radiation oncologist will use 3D scans to chart the location of the tumor and surrounding normal tissue.
- Once charted, a physicist uses this data to create a virtual reality simulation to plot your radiation treatment targeting the exact shape of the tumor. An ideal treatment plan can take hours of calculations.
- Once the physicist plots the target, he or she sends the treatment plan back to UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.
- A computer program then transfers the plan to a linear accelerator — the machine that delivers radiation treatments.
- The linear accelerator delivers radiation beams in about 300 different segments. It focuses the radiation on the tumor, while lessening the dose passing through healthy tissue.
Benefits of Intensity-Modulated Radiation TherapyStandard radiation therapy affects both cancerous and normal surrounding tissue causing side effects such as:
- Severe diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Mouth and throat ulcers