Imrt For Prostate Cancer Treatment

July 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer

Intensity modulated radiation therapy for prostate cancer treatment is no longer a brand new procedure in the interventions for the disease. Initially used only as a technique to improve external beam radiation therapy (and actually still only a form of it), IMRT is today used in its own capacity as a curative measure in men who are yet suffering from early stage prostatic cancer that is still confined to the prostate gland.

Generally, Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation as part of cancer treatment to control malignant cells either for curative or adjuvant cancer treatment. In late stage prostate cancers when cure is not believed to be possible, radiation treatment provides palliative management with the aim of local disease control or symptomatic relief; and when the remedy has survival benefits and it can be curative, it is used as a therapeutic treatment.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy is an advanced type of high-precision radiation that is considered to be the next generation of 3-Dimensional Conformal Radiotherapy, also known as 3DCRT. 3DCRT allows the profile of each radiation beam to be shaped and fit the precise profile of the target from a beam’s eye view (BEV) with the aid of a multileaf collimator (MLC) and a variable number of beams. This is with the intension of reducing the relative toxicity of radiation to the surrounding normal tissues, while allowing for higher doses of radiation delivered to the tumor than conventional techniques would allow.

IMRT also improves this ability to conform the treatment volume around concave tumor shapes; an example of which you might find when the tumor happens is wrapped around vulnerable structures like the spinal cord, or other major organs and vessels in the body. The procedure makes use of computer-controlled x-ray accelerators to distribute the precise radiation doses to malignant prostate tumors or to specific areas inside of or surrounded by the growth. Essentially, the radiation dose intensity is elevated in regions closer to the malignancy but radiation among the neighboring normal tissue is decreased or avoided completely.

Some of the worst side effects from prostate cancer treatments come from therapy by radiation. Radiation proctitis (inflammation and damage to the lower parts of the colon after exposure to x-rays or other ionizing radiation) often results in diarrhea and mild rectal bleeding, as well as eventual incontinence and impotence. This is as a result of the damage done to normal cells during the course of treatment. Under normal circumstances, (usually a number of weeks) after the treatment as been concluded, the side effects wear off and the patient gradually begins to feel better again.

The big plus with the customized radiation of IMRT is that it maximizes tumor dose while simultaneously protecting the surrounding normal tissue, resulting in better tumor targeting, lessened side effects (proctitis), and improved treatment outcomes than you will ever find with any other form of radiation therapy.

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