INTENSITY-MODULATED RADIATION THERAPY
IMRT is a type of 3-D conformal radiation therapy. Like 3-D conformal radiation, radiation beams are aimed at the tumor from several directions.
IMRT uses many more smaller beams than 3-D conformal and the strength of the beams in some areas can be changed to give higher doses to certain parts of the tumor.
Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy
There are many types of external beam radiation therapy, all of which share the goal of delivering the highest prescribed dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the normal tissue around it. Each type relies on a computer to analyze images of the tumor in order to calculate the most precise dose and treatment path possible.
What to Expect When Having Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy
How Often You Will Have External Beam Radiation Therapy
Most people have treatment once a day, Monday through Friday. The number of treatments varies from person to person based on details about your cancer, such as the type and stage of the cancer and the size and location of the tumor.
Where You Go for External Beam Radiation Therapy
Most of the time, you will get external beam radiation therapy as an outpatient. This means that you will have treatment at a clinic or radiation therapy center and will not stay the night in the hospital.
What to Wear for Your Treatments
Wear clothes that are comfortable and made of soft fabric, such as fleece or cotton. Choose clothes that are easy to take off, since you may need to expose the treatment area or change into a hospital gown. Do not wear clothes that are tight, such as close-fitting collars or waistbands, near your treatment area. Also, do not wear jewelry, adhesive bandages, or powder in the treatment area.
What Happens During a Treatment Session
The radiation therapist will leave the room just before your treatment begins. He or she will go to a nearby room to control the radiation machine. The therapist watches you on a TV screen or through a window and talks with you through a speaker in the treatment room. Make sure to tell the therapist if you feel sick or are uncomfortable. He or she can stop the radiation machine at any time. You will hear the radiation machine and see it moving around, but you won’t be able to feel, hear, see, or smell the radiation.
Most visits last from 30 minutes to an hour, with most of that time spent placing you in the correct position.