Many people know all too well what radiotherapy is. One in three people is now expected to be affected by cancer at some point in their lives, meaning radiotherapy is something the public has become well versed in, what with it being one of the most successful ways of killing cancerous cells.
One variation which is not so commonly known, however, is intensity-modulated radiotherapy, a procedure that can offer more successful results in some instances.
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a high precision dose of radiotherapy that can be used to target oddly shaped tumors, such as the concave ones which wrap around bones or organs. The next generation of 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, IMRT uses a computer to distribute radiation accurately and in the correct dosages. It uses several smaller beams within a typical more massive beam, which then attacks the tumor from many different angles for a higher chance of success.
This not only makes it more effective at killing the cancer cells but also lowers the potential for damage to surrounding skin, bone, or muscle tissue. This can then lead to a higher chance of beating the cancer, as well as a much faster, more comfortable, and painless recovery process. Unsurprisingly, the less healthy tissue the radiation has to pass through, the healthier a person will be, meaning they can keep more mobile during treatment, which could boost their treatment, not to mention potential depression or muscle wastage.
Coupling this method of targeting with useful mapping of the tumor (to get a more accurate idea of its size and shape) will then allow doctors the best chance of effectively attacking the cancer and helping the patient make a full recovery.
So IMRT may not be as well known as its precursor, radiotherapy, but its success could well see that changed in years to come as patients live to tell the tale of its success.