Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) utilizes a highly precise radiation system to deliver meticulously calculated beams of radiation directly into the targeted tumor. Successful IMRT implementation hinges on both specialized equipment and on highly trained team of physicians, physicists, and technologists. Radiation Oncology Associates has both the technology and the clinical expertise to coax such results.

IMRT is delivered by specially equipped linear accelerators guided by a sophisticated computer system. The radiation beam generated by the IMRT system is shaped by 120 computer controlled multi-leaf collimators or “fingers” which allow exquisite conformality. Whereas traditional radiation treatments were delivered by 4-6 separate beams, IMRT employs hundreds of non-coplanar beams to precisely kill tumor cells.

This pinpoint accuracy of IMRT has several vital advantages for cancer patients. It allows maximization of dose delivery to the targeted tumor while minimizing healthy surrounding tissues from unnecessary exposure. As such, this theoretically will translate into local cure rates and fewer side effects from radiation treatments.

While IMRT has been employed successfully to treat many types of cancers, its benefits are clearly apparent for prostate cancer patients (link to prostate cancer). Prostate cancer cells require high doses for effective cure. This dose requirement is also compounded by its precarious anatomical location, as it is flanked by radiation sensitive structures such as the bladder and the rectum. Hence, IMRT allows the conformal dose delivery while minimizing the dose to the non-target tissues. Potential benefits of prostate IMRT include higher cure rates highlighted by lower chances of rectal bleeding and urinary complications.

Breast cancer (link to breast cancer) is another disease that may benefit from IMRT’s unique attributes. Particular with cancers of the left breast, which lays above the heart, IMRT offers an excellent therapeutic option. It allows a conformal dose distribution around the breast while minimizing any dose to the myocardium. Consequently, potential long term complications of cardiovascular disease and pericarditis can be minimized.

Brain tumors (link to brain tumors) treatments are also being revolutionized by IMRT therapy. Brain tumors are often irregularly shaped and almost always lie adjacent to vital non-target structures. Hence, IMRT’s elegant dose distribution is also ideal for brain treatments.

The IMRT program at ROA is being utilized successfully in all of these types of cancers. We are proud to be among the leading institutions bringing this revolutionary technology to Virginia.