According to recent figures, 65 percent of patients with cancer receive radiation treatment. Since its opening in 1982, the ETMC Cancer Institute’s radiation oncology cancer has served more than 12,000 cancer patients. Onsite radiation oncologists (physicians who specialize in this treatment) and medical physicists supervise the radiation therapy program. The institute’s radiation therapy center provides state-of-the-art technology including the simulation equipment and three-dimensional software that plans treatment and linear accelerators that deliver the radiation therapy.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is a computer-controlled therapy that allows a physician to pinpoint radiation to the precise location of a tumor, in effect “sculpting” the radiation beam to go around surrounding normal tissue and organs, reducing side effects.

The technology is particularly beneficial in treating tumors in the head, neck, prostate and breast. Radiation therapy is a method of cancer treatment that directs beams of radiation at cancerous tumors.

IMRT’s goal

The goal of this treatment is to expose the tumor to enough radiation so it stops growing, shrinks, or is destroyed, while at the same time avoiding normal structures around it to as great a degree as possible.

The more treatment can avoid the normal structures, the more radiation can be given to the tumor and the more chance there is of controlling the malignancy.

Not all cancer patients are candidates and not all tumors are appropriate for this kind of treatment.

Patient benefits from IMRT

In the head and neck you have many critical structures — eyes, mouth, saliva glands, spinal cord. Usually a tumor is nestled among all those structures, and the only way to get to the tumor is to go through those structures.

With IMRT,┬áspecialists can literally sculpt the beam around certain critical structures so that certain late complications don’t arise, or at least have a much lower chance of arising.