IMRT for Prostate Cancer Treatment

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What is IMRT?

Sheldon Marks, MD
For many years, standard radiation therapy involved large machines focusing huge beams of radiation at the prostate or whatever the target organ was. And where those beams all overlapped, is where the damage was done. The problem with that is that the surrounding tissues were damaged, and sometimes tissues and organs in the vicinity couldn't tolerate the radiation so the dose to the cancer wasn't high enough. Over the past several years, they developed a technique called IMRT, which stands for Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, instead of these large beams that focus on the tumor, there are computer-generated, pencil-sized beams that almost paint the target organ so you can get much higher doses, with thousands of little microbeams, with killing doses on the cancer. But the tissues that surround it get minimal doses, so there's fewer side effects, much higher success at killing the cancer.