[MOL] New Advance In Radiation Therapy May Improve Cancer Treatment [01545] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] New Advance In Radiation Therapy May Improve Cancer Treatment

New Advance In Radiation Therapy May Improve Cancer Treatment
    [07/27/2000; ScienceDaily]

CHICAGO, IL (July 19, 2000)-- Radiation therapy - the treatment
of disease with penetrating beams of particles such as x-rays
- has long been a primary weapon in the war on cancer.  That's
because x-rays and other forms of radiation can readily destroy
tumors by depositing energy on them.  But radiation can also
harm healthy tissue, for the very same reason.  At an international
conference in Chicago next week, medical physicists will discuss
what many see as a significant advance in radiation therapy.
 Known as intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), the new technique
enables physicians to deliver greater amounts of radiation to
the precise location of a tumor while minimizing the dose to
the healthy tissue that surrounds it.  Researchers are hopeful
that IMRT will improve treatment of many cancers.

Until recently, radiation therapy has employed beams of nearly
uniform intensity or with rudimentary devices for modifying the
intensity.  As a result, there were some instances in which the
desired dose of radiation could not be delivered to the entire
tumor without harming healthy tissue in the process.

IMRT solves this problem by allowing the intensity of each radiation
beam to be varied or "modulated."  In other words, each beam
can send out a sophisticated radiation pattern that varies in
time and space.  Firing non-uniform beams from several angles
could deliver the desired dose to the tumor while minimizing
doses to surrounding organs. 

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