New radiation therapy treatment arrives at KHCC

Top Quote Radiation therapy is one of the primary weapons used to fight cancer in modern medicine, it works by delivering precise doses of radiation to cancerous tumours within the body, with the aim of destroying the tumour's cells. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) March 29, 2011 - Radiation therapy is one of the primary weapons used to fight cancer in modern medicine. Since January 1st 2010, the King Hussein Cancer Centre has begun using a new form of radiation therapy known as IMRT - Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy. This new technique represents the very latest in medical technology to arrive at the KHCC Radiation Oncology Department, where it is currently being used to successfully treat a range of conditions.

    Radiation therapy works by delivering precise doses of radiation to cancerous tumours within the body, with the aim of destroying the tumour's cells. Doses are usually given through beams directed at the tumour from different angles via a machine, called a linear accelerator - Linac for short. Although effective, radiation therapy often damages healthy body cells as well as cancerous ones since the beams will inevitably hit the tissues and organs surrounding the tumour. However, IMRT works by varying the intensity of the radiation doses, minimising the damage to healthy cells and lessening the side effects of the treatment.

    IMRT also makes advances in the planning stage of the treatment. With older forms of radiation therapy hospital physicists would test a number of different beam intensities and angles before the correct dose is given to the patient. With IMRT, physicists attempt the opposite; they decide in advance how much radiation the tumour is to be given. They then feed these numbers into a computer running an inverse IMRT software, which then calculates the appropriate intensities of radiation to be given to the patient as the beam passes over the tumour.

    All this adds up to a much safer and less painful experience for many of KHCC's patients. According to Dr Al Mousa, Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at KHCC, IMRT is very much the way forward:

    "It's an updated form of 3D radiation therapy, but more precise. It saves the normal tissue and decreases the side affects of the treatment. There has also been evidence-based literature that shows the benefits of IMRT, although randomised trials have yet to be carried out. By modulating the intensity of the radiation we can target the tumour more accurately, and reduce the side effects for the patient. For example, patients with tumours in the head or neck often suffer from an acutely dry mouth, after radiation has destroyed the saliva glands. With IMRT, these symptoms are not as severe."

    Leila was a patient at KHCC who recently underwent IMRT, and is able to confirm its effectiveness. Leila came to KHCC for a check-up on the recommendation of her optometrist, after she experienced pain in her eye. A CT scan revealed a tiny tumour in her sinus. Following further tests, including an MRI and a biopsy, the doctors at KHCC decided to put Leila through the new IMRT machines, the first patient with a head tumour to do so

    "My sessions lasted for a month, I had them every morning except for weekends. It was the first time I learnt to appreciate my weekends! I went into the room with all the technicians, and then lay down on the machine with my head fixed in place with a custom made mask. The experience is a little harsh, but the staff were amazing and talked me through every single aspect of the treatment. After the treatment I experienced some dryness in my mouth, but not aside from that I felt OK. With my type of treatment there is a risk of fungal infection, but I didn't experience that at all."

    According to Dr Al Mousa, the new IMRT technique saved Leila a great deal of pain:

    "With previous types of radiation therapy treatment to the head or neck would lead to a much more severe symptoms. Patients are often unable to talk for a period of time following treatment. In Leila's case, no such symptoms occurred and she is doing very well."

    IMRT is a vital advance in medical technology, and it has shown itself to be a highly effective means of treating cancer more efficiently, and with less risk to the patient. KHCC's use of the new technology ensures the centre remains well equipped to help its patients the very best it can.

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