Improved IMRT Cancer Treatment Reduces Radiation Exposure to Healthy Tissue

Recent studies by researchers at Montefiore Medical Center have shown that improved IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) treatment provides far better patient care than standard radiation procedures because it safeguards healthy tissue surrounding cancerous tumors.

"We compared treatment techniques for cancers of the lung, abdomen, pelvis and head and neck, and were able to quantify just how much better IMRT was for patients in the studies than conventional radiation therapy," said Shalom Kalnicki, MD, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Montefiore.

Using the new IMRT technology, oncologists can now deliver thousands of precisely focused beams of radiation that follow the exact contours of a cancerous tumor. Today’s standard therapy uses cross-firing X-ray beams, and is not nearly as accurate.

A study of lung cancer patients showed that the average dose of radiation to the esophagus is reduced by 20 percent, and reduced by 30 percent to the area of the lung most critical for breathing.

"By developing and carrying out a tailor-made IMRT treatment plan for each patient, we reduced significantly the chance of having radiation beams harm healthy lung tissue and therefore impaired breathing," said Dr. Kalnicki.

In another study, Montefiore researchers used IMRT technology to treat patients with pancreatic cancer. Radiation dosage to the nearby kidneys was reduced by 38 percent, and radiation dosage to the normal bowel was also reduced by 38 percent.

A third Montefiore study used image guided adoptive planning, another advanced form of IMRT, to treat complex-shaped head and neck cancers.

The salivary glands, mandible, nerves and oral cavity lining were dramatically safeguarded using this method, resulting in significant improvement of patient quality of life.

Source: Montefiore Medical Center

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