Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a type of radiation therapy that uses three-dimensional, computer-generated images to more accurately match radiation to the size and shape of a patient's tumor. It is one of the most significant breakthroughs in radiation treatment in the last 30 years.
The therapy, which has been successfully used to treat tumors in the spine, head, neck, prostate, lung, liver and brain, allows the delivery of higher radiation doses with minimal complications for surrounding healthy tissue. For example, a tumor that surrounds the spinal cord can be effectively treated with IMRT with less radiation reaching the spinal cord. IMRT is especially helpful for patients who experience a recurrence of disease in an area already treated with conventional radiation therapy.
IMRT employs a powerful, advanced computer program to plan the precise dose of radiation in three dimensions, based on the individual tumor size, shape and location. The technique also directs radiation at the tumor and modulates the intensity of the radiation.
The newest dual energy linear accelerator, with upgraded hardware and software, takes us directly into the 21st century. Three-dimensional conformal therapy, such as IMRT, is being used to treat breast and prostate cancer, larger abdominal masses and lymphoma, while minimizing toxicity to the liver, stomach and small intestine.