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IMRT helps spare healthy tissue

New radiation therapy technology available at Baptist Health Louisville focuses ionizing radiation on a malignant tumor in a way that spares more surrounding healthy tissue than the method commonly used.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) goes one step further than the currently used three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) treatments for cancer.

 The use of three-dimensional imaging made it possible to conform a radiation field to the shape of a tumor using single, uniform beams of radiation. IMRT is an advanced form of 3D-CRT which allows very small beams of radiation with varying intensities to be aimed at a tumor from many angles.

The result is radiation treatments that conform even more to the shape of the tumor than standard 3D-CRT, with two major benefits.

IMRT offers clinicians the opportunity to deliver a higher dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the dose to the healthy tissue that surrounds it.

During treatment planning, clinicians use IMRT technology to design the radiation fields to be used during treatment. A specialized computer-controlled device with as many as 120 tungsten fingers, or leaves, allows clinicians to sculpt the radiation beams to conform to the shape of the tumor.

Because of the longer treatment time and involved planning procedures, this treatment modality is not for everyone. For those who are good candidates for IMRT treatment, it can decrease side effects and increase the amount of dose delivered safely.