Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

3D Radiation Therapy for Abnormally Shaped Tumors

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an advanced form of very precise 3D radiotherapy used at Loyola Medicine. With state-of-the-art technology, we can personalize your radiation treatment for the exact contours and size of your tumor. IMRT is very effective in delivering high doses of radiation to unusually shaped tumors while minimizing exposure to surrounding normal tissue.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy is used to treat several types of cancers and tumors at Loyola, especially when the target tumor is close to critical organs that need to be protected. IMRT may be used in the treatment for the following cancer types:

Loyola is among a handful of centers in Illinois that have earned the rigorous radiation oncology certification from the American College of Radiology. This means that our radiation treatment equipment, and our highly trained faculty and staff are on the leading edge of radiation therapy.

What Does IMRT Do?

During an IMRT treatment, a system of computer-controlled devices (dynamic multi-leaf collimators, or DMLC) allow the intensity of radiation to vary inside a single beam. As a result, more radiation can be delivered to some areas in the body, such as irregularly shaped tumors, and less to others. 

One way to visualize how this works is to imagine a shower head with many nozzles, where the water represents radiation. Conventional radiation therapy techniques only allow a constant flow of water to be delivered through all nozzles, but with IMRT, individual nozzles may be adjusted to deliver water at different intensities.

IMRT Side Effects

Intensity modulated radiation therapy allows us to treat cancer with fewer side effects compared with conventional radiotherapy. Potential side effects can include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Irritated skin
  • Loss of appetite

Each person reacts differently to IMRT, and some patients have few or no side effects. Ask your Loyola doctor what side effects you can expect.