IMRT - Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy
At Palomar Medical Center Escondido, IMRT is used to treat cancers of the prostate, head and neck, breast, brain, and gynecological malignancies.
How It Works
IMRT is an advanced mode of high- precision radiotherapy that utilizes computer- controlled x-ray accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor or specific areas within the tumor.
The radiation dose is designed to conform to the three-dimensional (3-D) shape of the tumor by modulating- or controlling- the intensity of the radiation exposure to surrounding normal tissues. Treatment is carefully planned by using 3-D computer tomography (CT) images of the patient in conjunction with computerized dose calculations to determine the dose intensity pattern that will best conform to the tumor shape.
Typically, combinations of several intensity-modulated fields coming from different beam directions produce a custom tailored radiation dose that maximizes tumor dose while also protecting adjacent normal tissues.
Because the ratio of normal tissue dose to tumor dose is reduced to a minimum with the IMRT approach, higher and more effective radiation doses can safely be delivered to tumors with fewer side effects compared with conventional radiotherapy techniques. IMRT also has the potential to reduce treatment toxicity, even when doses are not increased.
Things You Should Know About IMRT (or 3-D Treatment To The Prostate)
Around the time that you have completed 7 – 10 radiation treatments you may experience some side effects. This is due to the radiation dose accumulating in your body causing a delayed effect. The side effects may accumulate during the rest of your treatment and begin to disappear 7-10 days after you have finished your treatments. The following are side effects and preventative measures that your nurse and Radiation Oncologist will cover in more detail at your consultation and regular weekly visits during your treatment cycle.
- Skin Reactions: Only the skin exposed to radiation will be affected. Keeping your skin clean with a mild soap and lukewarm water and dry with a soft towel will help. Do not scrub the skin with loofas or gritty soaps or massage area of treatment. Soaps approved by the Palomar Radiation Oncology Department are: Dove, Aveno (Oatmeal), Neutrogena for sensitive skin. Do not wear any deodorant or perfumes on the area of treatment. These items can contain skin irritants that may have an adverse affect with the radiation exposure. Consult with the nurses before you use any lotions or ointments on this area as well. The radiation therapist will tell you not to apply any lotion or ointment to the treatment site before your daily treatments. Once your treatment is completed, you may put lotions or ointments on the area. Again, this is to prevent any adverse affect the radiation exposure may produce with the lotion. Wearing loose clothes including camisoles, boxer shorts, sweat suits or cotton clothing, can help prevent chafing.
- Temporary Hair Loss: Hair in the treatment area will most likely shed within the first few weeks. It will re-grow three to six months after your last treatment.
- Bowels: Discomfort may occur in the rectal and anal areas during treatment. This may include itching, burning, diarrhea, or painful bowel movements. The nurse can give you some handouts on diet restrictions and techniques to decrease these side effects.
- Bladder: You may notice an increase in frequency of urination or burning or pressure when urinating. Please notify the nurses of this. It is a common side effect and can be treated with certain medications.
- Sexual Activity: Please discuss this with the Radiation Oncologist or nurse.
- Fatigue: During the last few weeks of treatment you may feel a decrease in energy levels. This is normal and we suggest that you listen to your body and rest when necessary. Patients can exercise and work during treatment, as long as they are comfortable doing so, and don’t over-exert themselves. Discuss this with the medical staff when needed.
- Counseling: Our nursing staff has resources and experience in dealing with a wide variety of needs and issues that may arise during this challenging time in your life. Do not hesitate to discuss these matters or ask for help. Our sole purpose is to be here for you and your family.
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