In radiation therapy, the goal is to deliver radiation only to the cancer site, sparing as much normal, healthy tissue as possible. Through evolving technologies, the treatment team is able to deliver a higher radiation dose to the tumor, while avoiding or giving a lower dose to the normal issues. The results in a higher likelihood of a cure, and the lower dose to the normal tissues results in fewer potential side effects from the radiation treatment.
Dr. Sperduto and his fellow MRO physicians use new techniques that deliver high doses of radiation to tumors while substantially reducing exposure to normal tissues. This therapy, called intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is a form of threedimension conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT) that allows radiation oncologists to deliver optimum treatment of radiation individualized for each patient.
Before IMRT, the treatment fields were chosen, the dose calculated and then the physician looked to see if the dose was acceptable. Now with IMRT and specialized modern computers, the radiation oncologist designs the dose distribution that is desired, and the computer determines the optimal way to deliver the treatment. This is termed inverse planning.
With IMRT, radiation oncologists are no longer limited to using a single, large, uniform beam of radiation that may cause complications in normal tissue surrounding the tumor. Now they can vary dose intensities and treat the tumor with a higher concentration of radiation, while shaping the beam using multi-leaf collimators (MLC) to avoid surrounding tissue. This ability to give a greater dose concentration to the target gives radiation oncologists a much greater chance of completely killing the tumor.