Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy: Advantages, Limitations and Future Developments
Cheung, K.Y., (2006) Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy: Advantages, Limitations and Future Developments. Biomedical Imaging and Intervention Journal, 2 (1). e19, 19p..
Official URL: http://www.biij.org/2006/1/e19/e19.pdf
Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, Dept. of Clinical Oncology
Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is widely used in clinical applications in developed countries, for the treatment of malignant and non-malignant diseases. This technique uses multiple radiation beams of non-uniform intensities. The beams are modulated to the required intensity maps for delivering highly conformal doses of radiation to the treatment targets, while sparing the adjacent normal tissue structures. This treatment technique has superior dosimetric advantages over 2 dimensional (2D) and conventional 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) treatments. It can potentially benefit the patient in three ways. First, by improving conformity with target dose it can reduce the probability of in-field recurrence. Second, by reducing irradiation of normal tissue it can minimise the degree of morbidity associated with treatment. Third, by facilitating escalation of dose it can improve local control. Early clinical results are promising, particularly in the treatment of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). However, as the IMRT is a sophisticated treatment involving high conformity and high precision, it has specific requirements. Therefore, tight tolerance levels for random and systematic errors, compared with conventional 2D and 3D treatments, must be applied in all treatment and pre-treatment procedures. For this reason, a large-scale routine clinical implementation of the treatment modality demands major resources and, in some cases, is impractical. This paper will provide an overview of the potential advantages of the IMRT, methods of treatment delivery, and equipment currently available for facilitating the treatment modality. It will also discuss the limitations of the equipment and the ongoing development work to improve the efficiency of the equipment and the treatment techniques and procedures.
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