Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

What is it?

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is able to protect the normal, healthy tissue and the critical tissues around the tumor so that your physician can deliver a high dose of radiation more precisely to the cancer and minimize side effects from the treatment. IMRT treatments can be used to cure cancer (typically occurring every day Monday-Friday for six to nine weeks) or to treat symptoms from the cancer (usually shorter in duration, anywhere from once to every day for two to three weeks), also called palliative treatment.

IMRT is highly personalized to the patient's needs and anatomy. Just like surgery, outcomes from this therapy greatly depend on physician experience and close attention to dose and volumes of the treated tissues. UK’s radiation oncologists are highly experienced in IMRT, and they specialize in complex cases, including patients who have had previous radiation therapy or surgeries and those with other complicated medical issues.

We provide several cutting-edge IMRT technologies:

  • TomoTherapy is one of the most advanced and versatile radiation therapy systems available. We use this treatment technology to treat cancers where there is a critical need to protect small vital structures such as the eye, brain and nerves. TomoTherapy is also used for cancers in the prostate, pelvis, lung and abdomen. It provides multiple radiation beam angles to be able to focus more on the tumor and less on surrounding healthy tissue.
  • TrueBeam delivers precise radiation to the tumor with a faster speed than other technologies. Through this technology, we also offer volumetric modulated arc radiotherapy (VMAT), which continuously changes the radiation beam intensity during treatment, while rotating around the patient. VMAT allows for shorter treatment times in most cases, and it is especially helpful for large treatment areas.
  • Halcyon combines the preciseness of TomoTherapy and with the speed of TrueBeam in a treatment platform that is designed around patient comfort (coming to UK early 2019).

What are the benefits?

Using IMRT, we can provide patients with better quality of life and help them remain strong through treatment. This includes sparing salivary glands for patients with head and neck cancer so they can maintain normal mouth moisture and enjoy a wider range of foods, decreasing the chances of diarrhea during pelvic radiation therapy, and increasing a patient’s ability to tolerate concurrent treatments such as chemotherapy.

What cancers is it used to treat?

IMRT is very useful in treating tumors that require a high dose of radiation and/or that are close to nearby critical organs. These cancers include:

  • Brain.
  • Head and neck.
  • Prostate.
  • Gynecologic.
  • Gastrointestinal, such as pancreas, liver and anal cancers.
  • Lung.