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New Radiation Treatment at UK Safer for Patients

By Jill Holder

 

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"IMRT allows us to make a distinction between cancer cells and normal tissues with our radiation delivery. We are now able to treat tumors while avoiding patient complications associated with traditional radiation therapy. In 10 years, this treatment will be the norm."

-- William St. Clair, M.D., Ph.D.,
assistant professor,
UK Department of Radiation Medicine

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July 12, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- The University of Kentucky Department of Radiation Medicine is offering a safer treatment for cancer patients. It is the only health care agency in the Commonwealth where the procedure is in use.

Using Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), UK physicians can control the shape and depth of radiation beams - minimizing the dose to surrounding normal organs while increasing the intensity to the tumor. Because exposure to healthy structures is limited, patients who undergo IMRT will generally have fewer side effects than those who undergo conventional radiation therapy.

This is particularly important with today's cutting-edge treatments because most patients also receive chemotherapy, which can increase adverse reactions.

Recent technological advances along with clinical studies by UK faculty members have contributed to the development and optimization of IMRT techniques.

Patients with lung, prostate, pancreas, head and neck and other cancers will potentially benefit from this new treatment, said William St. Clair, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, UK Department of Radiation Medicine.

"IMRT allows us to make a distinction between cancer cells and normal tissues with our radiation delivery," St. Clair said. "We are now able to treat tumors while avoiding patient complications associated with traditional radiation therapy. In 10 years, this treatment will be the norm."

Traditional radiation therapy involves directing several, separate X-ray beams to the tumor from different angles.

IMRT replaces typical uniform beam intensities with controlled variations of intensity across each beam. The beam modulation allows the radiation energy from all beams to be deposited closely on the tumor, thus avoiding nearby healthy tissues. By targeting only the tumor, IMRT reduces possible adverse effects of the radiation.


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