IMRT delivers a single dose of radiation through collimators — hundreds of tiny radiation beam-shaping devices, the National Cancer Institute points out. The collimators may be stationary, or they may be programmed to move during IMRT in order to change the intensity of the radiation beams, allowing different areas of a tumor or nearby tissues to receive different amounts of radiation.
Although most treatment sessions with intensity modulated radiotherapy take only between 10 and 30 minutes, you will need multiple sessions. If you undergo IMRT for breast cancer, you’ll likely have a treatment five days a week for several weeks. However, the total number of IMRT sessions depends on your specific case, including the type of cancer you have and the size and location of the tumor.
Although IMRT is painless, skin exposed to any radiation treatment sometimes develops the itchy, dry, discolored condition known as radiation dermatitis. Most skin reactions slowly resolve after radiation therapy ends.
But IMRT may reduce or prevent the occurrence of radiation-linked skin problems in many breast cancer patients. A follow-up study of more than a thousand patients who underwent IMRT for breast cancer found a significant reduction in skin side effects.
“Analyzing the results five years after treatment, we saw significant benefits in patients who had received IMRT,” said researcher Charlotte Coles, M.D., from Addenbrooke’s Hospital Oncology Center in Cambridge, UK. “We saw that fewer patients in the IMRT group developed skin telangiectasia (dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin), and the overall cosmetic effect in the breast was better.”
March 16, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN