Advanced Radiation Therapy Helping Fight Cancer

Medical Minutes

Radiation treatment for cancer patients has improved by leaps and bound in recent years thanks to technology.

Tonight in our "Ounce of Prevention" report, I take a looke at I-M-R-T or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy.

Kathleen Kauffman is into her third week of radiation treatment for early stage breast cancer. So far, she's happy with the results.

"Every day goes smoothly as can be. It's the easiest thing I've ever done. The drive is the heardest part," Kauffman says. "You go right in, lie down on the table, Five minutes later you're up and going again."

Kauffman's treatment is called I-M-R-T. A type of cancer therapy that better focuses radiation doses on tumors without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.

Says Dr. Douglas Arthur,a Radiation Oncologist: "It gives us an additional tool to use to fight the cancer while keeping the patient healthy and limiting the side effects as much as possible. We know where we want to get the dose. We know where we don't want to get the dose. And now we have an additional way to do that more accurately."

The I-M-R-T machine uses the computer imaging data and a set of tungsten leaves to create a specific shape that matches the shape of the tumor. The machine moves around the patient shooting beams of low-dose radiation that converge on a single point, delivering a high dose to a specific area.

It differs from other cancer radiation therapies, which typically deliver radiation across a wider area. In order to minimize damage to healthy tissue lower dosages have to be used, meaning less radiation gets to the cancerous areas.

I-M-R-T was first used to treat prostate cancer, but technology advances have expanded the list of cancer that can be treated, including breast cancer.

Currently, Washoe Medical Center is the only local facility to offer I-M-R-T.

Our Ounce of Prevention Shower Kit Giveaway is tomorrow (Friday) in Reno at the St. Mary's Health and Wellness Center, located at 745 West Moana Lane.

We'll hand out kits beginning at six in the evening until seven.

The American Cancer Society will also be on hand to show women how to do proper self breast exam.

The kits contain twelve-one-ounce bottles which hang in the shower and remind women to do self breast exam.

There is a limited supply and we hand them out on a first come first serve basis.

They are made possible by St. Mary's Regional Medical Center.