Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
The Lacks Cancer Center at Saint Mary's Heath Care is the only center in West Michigan performing dynamic Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). This innovative therapy uses sophisticated computer software and hardware, along with precise alignment devices, to deliver high-intensity radiation with surgical precision, making it ideal for brain cancers, head and neck cancers, prostate cancers and other cancers in which isolating the diseased tissue is difficult. What this means for our patients is that cancerous tissue or tumors can be given a far higher dose of radiation while the surrounding healthy tissue is spared. Patients will experience fewer side effects and long-term complications. Also, because IMRT is an outpatient therapy, there will be minimal disruption to their daily routines.
IMRT vs. Traditional Radiation Therapy
Standard radiation therapy is typically applied by pointing a consistent two-dimensional beam of high-energy radiation at cancerous tissue, delivering an even dose distribution to the tumor and surrounding tissue. With this approach, however, the beam of radiation targets healthy tissue as well as cancerous, resulting in an uneven delivery. IMRT precisely conforms to the tumor, while sparing critical healthy tissue. The ultimate result of IMRT is that surrounding normal tissue can be spared and the dose given can be increased, so there is a greater likelihood that the cancer will be removed without added complications for healthy tissue.
The IMRT Process:
The patient may undergo an MRI to help locate the tumor and determine the need for IMRT.
Patients are then fitted with a customized device that will keep them in place during treatments.
While the patient lies in a fixed position, a CT scan is performed to identify and mark the precise treatment areas.
At the first treatment, significant time and importance is placed upon patient positioning on the table. Once he or she is in the proper position, the computer guides the IMRT through the treatment, providing proper doses of radiation from pre-determined angles.
After the treatment, patients are free to return home until the next scheduled treatment, if any. If it is their final treatment, regular follow-up visits are scheduled.
To learn more about which screening or diagnostic procedure is best for you, ask your primary care physician for a referral or make a self-referral by calling 616-685-6218.