Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

When cancerous tumors affect sensitive areas like the brain, spinal cord and prostate, considering radiation therapy can be a life altering process.  Fortunately, the advancement of state-of-the-art radiotherapeutic cancer treatment helps our oncologists at Providence provide comfortable medical care customized to fit your needs.

Our top priority is to help you regain control of your life with the latest in cancer care technology, such as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an advanced type of cancer treatment that uses a high-precision linear accelerator to accurately deliver high doses of radiation.

Much like three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), IMRT uses 3D imaging and a dedicated computer-controlled radiation machine (linear accelerator). However, unlike 3D-CRT, IMRT delivers thousands of small radiation beams together, each at different intensities 

This modulation of several thousand beams allows oncologists to deliver radiation that conforms to the precise size, shape and location of cancerous tumors, while reducing harm to vital organs and minimizing side effects to healthy tissue.

Because IMRT is administered over several short and pain-free sessions, you will first undergo a variety of scans and procedures to help determine how doctors will best treat your specific situation. These possible tests include CT, PET and MRI scans. The tests are the first step your team of oncologists and caregivers take in constructing your personalized treatment plan.

As your IMRT treatment begins, calibration and diagnostic procedures are put in place. These may include a body mold and small freckle-sized tattoos. The tattoos help the radiation equipment align to the targeted area, and the body mold comfortably assists you in maintaining a still position on the treatment table while receiving radiation.

These procedures are calibrated on a daily basis to ensure precision, accuracy and consistency throughout each therapy session.

Each radiation therapy session runs like a CT or MRI scan. Your radiotherapist positions you on the treatment table surrounded by the medical linear accelerator.  Once the machine is ready to deliver the radiation, your radiation therapist will exit the room.

At Providence, we care about providing comfort, so in situations like these, your therapists will maintain contact with you over a microphone and intercom at all times should you need anything.

The sessions are often short and pain free. After your first session, which is typically the longest session to ensure precise calibration of machinery, each subsequent session lasts roughly 15 minutes.

Sometimes, cancerous tissues and tumors are too close to vital organs to risk treating with conventional radiation therapy. But with IMRT, doctors are able to accurately target the tumor while minimizing exposure and sparing vital adjacent organs.

Still, some complications are possible during your sessions. Reactions to radiation include dryness or itching of the skin over the target, soreness and nausea.