The intensity modulated radiation therapy is used to treat malignant or cancerous growths and shrink the cancerous tumor. This type of therapy is oriented towards killing cancer cells while retaining and causing minimum damage to healthy cells. The intensity of the radiation is modulated to focus more on the malignant cells and less on healthy tissue.
This type of radiation gives radiation from several angles and tries to give target the tumor in a three dimensional manner. As far as possible it is the shape of the tumor that the therapist will try and follow so as to deliver maximum radiation to the tumor and as little as possible to the surrounding healthy tissue.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy is used extensively for treating prostate cancers, cancers of the central nervous system, of the head and neck and less frequently in breast cancer, lung cancer, and certain female and pediatric cancers.
This treatment is used not only for treating the tumor but also to relive some of the symptoms of the tumor such as bleeding, pain and of on.
How long the treatment will be generally depends upon the type of cancer, its location and the oncologist’s assessment of the situation. However in general each session takes about 15 to 30 minutes several times a week and extending to up to 8 weeks in duration.
Before the intensity modulated radiation therapy is initiated several scans such as the X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, PET scans, and so on will be required to get more information about the tumor, its location, size and dimensions.
This radiation therapy is a painless procedure though there could be some amount of discomfort after the treatment. While some people have no side effects at all, some may experience some amount of fatigue, some amount of appetite loss and skin changes.
Also depending upon the site of the cancer, there could be specific side effects and in some cases hair loss may result. The oncologist will usually appraise the patient about what side effects if any to expect and how to manage them.
In general intensity modulated radiation therapy should not cause new lumps, persistent pain, nausea/vomiting and so on. If there is unexplained weight loss, persistent fever and sore throat kind of symptoms these should also be reported to the doctor. The skin changes are also not extreme and if there is bruising; rashes and bleeding this could also be cause for concern and should be reported.