Yeah….. so what is IMRT? Let’s break it down in simple layman’s terms and talk about the application and benefits.
Down to basics; The body is made up of trillions of cells and out of these cells, some turn into cancer cells. These cancer cells spread throughout the tissue and eventually to the rest of the body if left untreated. Many people believe that Chemotherpy and Radiation Therapy are the same when they are actually very different. Chemotherapy treats the whole body because the cancer has already spread to many locations within the person. Radiation therapy is used when the cancer is still concentrated in one specific location.
IMRT is a type of radiation therapy. Think of it as an intense beam of radiation that is precisely aimed at a malignant tumor within the body. Accuracy is extremely important for two main reasons. Obviously you want to hit the cancer and two, minimize the damage of healthy tissue in the process. To reduce these risks, a CT scan (computed tomography) and an MRI (magnetic resonance) are taken to insure that the radiation is targeted properly along with carefully computer calculated measurements. The accuracy of this treatment is what makes it so beneficial to patients.
Since the beam is so concentrated, the amount of damage to normal tissue is significantly reduced. Because of this, higher doses of radiation can be administered safely with much fewer side effects. The only downside to IMRT is that it’s not convenient and requires multiple safety checks along with longer daily treatment times then conventional radiotherapy.
IMRT is mostly used to treat cancers of the head, neck and prostate. It is a viable source of radiation therapy that can reduce the size and even eliminate tumors. Talk to your urologist or radiation oncologist at Houston Metro Cancer Center to decide if this is the right treatment option for you.