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Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy at Rex Cancer Center

Radiation therapy, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stops cancer cells from growing and slows tumor growth. In many cases, IMRT can kill cancer cells and shrink or eliminate tumors.

IMRT uses computer-controlled X-ray accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor or specific areas within the tumor. Not all tissue reacts to radiation the same way. Therefore, IMRT can vary in radiation intensity emitted across a field. The radiation beam can also rotate around the patient, sending beams from a more favorable angle and location. By cross-firing the tumor with these beams of varying intensity from all possible angles, a uniform dose of radiation is delivered to the tumor while minimizing the effects on surrounding sensitive structures.

Treatment is planned by using CT images of the patient with corresponding computerized dose calculations to determine the radiation pattern that will best conform to the tumor shape. This helps reduce the amount of normal tissue that is affected and reduces side effects. It also allows a higher radiation dose to be delivered safely to a tumor compared to conventional radiation therapy techniques.

Currently, IMRT is being used to treat cancers of the prostate, head, neck, breast, thyroid and lung. It is also used to treat gynecologic, liver and brain tumors as well as lymphomas and sarcomas.