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Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Some normal cells will be damaged with radiation. The goal of radiation therapy is to kill as many cancer cells as possible, while limiting damage to healthy cells.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a treatment for cancer. It uses radiation beams of different intensities. The beams deliver appropriate doses of radiation to the tumor and reduce the dose to nearby healthy tissue.

Radiation of Tumor
Radiation of Tumor
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Radiation therapy works to destroy or shrink the tumor to eliminate or prevent the spread of cancer. It can also be used to relieve symptoms caused by the tumor (eg, pain, bleeding). Compared with conventional radiation therapy, IMRT can safely deliver greater doses of radiation. The higher dose may also improve the success of the treatment.

Possible Complications

IMRT is generally associated with fewer side effects than conventional radiation therapy. Side effects vary from person to person, depending on the location of your cancer. Some people experience no side effects at all. General side effects of radiation therapy may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Specific side effects associated with the area of the body being treated

Although uncomfortable, the side effects associated with radiation therapy are usually not serious. They can be controlled with medicine and diet. Your radiation oncologist can explain the side effects you are likely to experience and help determine the best strategies for managing them.

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