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Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

What is Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy and how is it used?

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a mode of 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. In the IMRT planning process, treatment planning computers use "inverse planning" techniques to maximize the dose to the target and minimize the dose to sensitive structures. In the process, the multileaf collimator (MLC) is set to a multitude of sizes from different beam angles to obtain the required dose distribution. After the plan is approved, it is sent to the treatment machine where the linear accelerator will deliver the planned treatment.

The radiation physicist ensures the linear accelerator delivers the precise radiation dose and that computerized dose calculations are accurate. Treatment sessions are similar to convention treatments and usually take between 15 and 30 minutes.

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