Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy

IMRTThe American Cancer Society estimates that in the District of Columbia alone, there are 2,700 new cancer patients diagnosed every year.

Radiation therapy is used in more than half of all cancer treatments today, and these therapies are becoming increasingly more effective with new technologies that permit ultra-precise dose delivery.

Advanced radiation therapy allows doctors to more accurately target cancer and minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissue

The George Washington University Hospital Radiation Oncology Center is equipped with innovative capabilities, including some of the most advanced technology for treating cancer with radiation.

By using the Clinac® 21EX Linear Accelerator from Varian Medical Systems, GW Hospital offers patients Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), a precise and sophisticated treatment technology for treating cancer.

A simple premise of radiation therapy is to maximize the dose given to the tumor and minimize the dose given to the surrounding healthy tissue. With IMRT, patients can benefit from the increased probability of satisfactory outcomes resulting from amplified doses to tumors, as well as fewer complications in radiation delivery.

Used in conjunction with multi-modality imaging, IMRT allows clinicians to optimize the planning and delivery of higher does of radiation to a tumor or target area, while minimizing radiation to healthy tissue.

IMRT technology is used to treat patients with prostate, head and neck, brain, breast, pancreatic and other cancers.

How It Works

IMRT is a form of three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy that links treatment planning with sophisticated software that actually drives the treatment.

At GW Hospital's Radiation Oncology Center, clinicians work with the medical physics staff to use highly advanced treatment planning software to determine the best solution and IMRT treatment for each patient. Whether it is the pursuit of dose escalation or simply the desire to reduce complications, IMRT equips clinicians with advanced tools available in the fight against cancer.

To begin, clinicians use a technique called inverse treatment planning.

Traditionally, clinicians defined treatment parameters and dose distributions to assess whether the treatment plan would lead to an acceptable outcome. With IMRT, clinicians do just the opposite. Clinical objectives are first stated mathematically and then the IMRT optimization process determines the beam parameters and the resulting dose distribution that leads to the desired solution. The beam parameters involve very small beams of radiation that are delivered with varying intensities and aimed at a target from many angles in a completely three-dimensional manner. A computer-driven linear accelerator fitted with a collimation device then delivers the IMRT treatment.

Clinical study results indicate that the prescribed doses can be targeted without increasing radiation side effects, sparing healthy tissue. Difficult-to-treat tumors, such as those with unusual shapes or those that are located close to or within vital organs, can be treated with more confidence.

IMRT offers tremendous potential for improving the efficiency and efficacy of radiation therapy, offering a significant opportunity to improve patient outcomes. However, IMRT requires significant care and skill during implementation. The staff at The George Washington University Hospital Radiation Oncology Center has been specially trained to treat patients with IMRT providing convenient access to this exciting technology.

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