Intensity modulated radiation therapy treats breast cancer with precise radiation doses and keeps exposure to normal tissues at a minimum.
Radiation therapy is a powerful cancer treatment. By stopping cancer cells from dividing, radiation can slow or shut down the growth of breast cancer. In fact, radiation therapy can shrink and even eliminate some tumors, according to the American Cancer Society.
However, radiation exposure doesn’t only damage cancer cells. Radiotherapy can harm normal cells during treatment, too, resulting in side effects, including fatigue and red, itching, irritated, and flaky skin. Research suggests radiation to the chest for breast cancer treatment may raise the risk of heart and lung problems, too.
But an advanced form of radiotherapy called intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) can zero in on malignancies — even specific areas within a tumor — with high doses of radiation while, at the same time, minimizing radiation exposure to normal body tissues.
The use of intensity modulated radiation therapy for breast cancer depends on the size, stage, and location of the tumor, along with other factors. If you have breast cancer and are set for radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist will decide if you are a good candidate for IMRT.
If it’s a go for the high-tech radiation therapy, imagining techniques such as 3-D CT scans and MRIs will document the exact size, shape, and location of your breast tumor. Next, the radiation oncologist will determine the radiation doses that are needed to treat different parts of the tumor and surrounding areas, using high-powered, computerized calculations. Exactly how many beams of radiation, and the amount, will be tailored to conform to the tumor and directed to precisely zap the breast cancer.
October 17, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN