Intensity-modulated Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancerous and noncancerous tumors. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an advanced form of radiation treatment that can target tumors, conforming to their shape, while sparing healthy tissue.

Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in cancer care. We offer a comprehensive oncology program, including advanced treatments like IMRT. Best of all, you’ll appreciate convenient appointment times, locations near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your procedure.

What Is IMRT?

IMRT delivers a single dose of radiation by using hundreds of tiny radiation beam-shaping devices, called collimators. The collimators may be stationary or may move during treatment, allowing the intensity of the radiation beams to change during treatment sessions. This kind of modulation allows different areas of a tumor or nearby tissues to receive different doses of radiation. IMRT’s goal is to increase the radiation dosage to the areas that need it and reduce radiation exposure to sensitive areas of surrounding normal tissue. 

This type of radiation therapy can be used to treat certain cancers (and noncancerous tumors) of the bone, eye, soft tissue, prostate, breast, head and neck, reproductive organs, brain, lung and gastrointestinal system.

What Can IMRT Accomplish?

Using a computer-controlled system to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant or benign tumor, or specific areas within a tumor, IMRT allows the radiation dose to conform to the tumor’s shape and allows higher radiation doses to be focused on just that tumor. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments.

IMRT can:

  • Deliver targeted radiation to tumors, sparing surrounding tissue from radiation damage
  • Cause fewer side effects, helping people return to normal, everyday activities faster

What Can I Expect During the Procedure?

You will likely need several IMRT treatment sessions. During each session, you will undergo imaging studies to determine the exact location of the tumor. During each session, you will lie on the treatment table and external radiation beams – guided by a computer – will be directed at the tumor, molding to its shape. Your radiation therapist will leave the room but will observe you during the procedure on closed circuit cameras, which will typically take between 10 and 30 minutes. 

You shouldn’t feel any pain during treatment. It is important that you tell your radiation therapist during at your first visit if the position is uncomfortable. Once the treatment plan is completed, you will need to stay in the same position for each of your treatments without moving.


People undergoing IMRT can return home right after treatment. Fatigue is a common side effect of radiation therapy regardless of which part of the body is treated. This does not usually occur until late in treatment. Some patients complete radiation without any side effects.

IMRT Possible Risks

Compared with 3D radiation, IMRT can reduce the risk of some side effects, such as damage to the salivary glands (which can cause dry mouth, or xerostomia), when the head and neck are treated with radiation therapy. However, with IMRT, a larger volume of normal tissue overall is exposed to radiation.

Next Steps with MyChart

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