Intensity modulated radiotherapy for prostate cancer
Radiation therapy (RT) is a curative treatment modality for localized prostate cancer. Over the past two decades, advances in technology and imaging have considerably changed RT in prostate cancer treatment. Treatment has evolved from 2-dimensional (2D) planning using X-ray fields based on pelvic bony landmarks to 3-dimensional (3D) conformal RT (CRT) which uses computed tomography (CT) based planning. Despite improvements with 3D-CRT, dose distributions often remained suboptimal with portions of the rectum and bladder receiving unacceptably high doses. In more recent years, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has become the standard of care to deliver external beam RT. IMRT uses multiple radiation beams of different shapes and intensities delivered from a wide range of angles to ‘paint’ the radiation dose onto the tumor. IMRT allows for a higher dose of radiation to be delivered to the prostate while reducing dose to surrounding organs. Multiple clinical trials have demonstrated improved cancer outcomes with dose escalation, but toxicities using 3D-CRT and escalated doses have been problematic. IMRT is a method to deliver dose escalated RT with more conformal dose distributions than 3D-CRT and has been associated with improved toxicity pro les. IMRT also appears to be the safest method to deliver hypofractionated RT and pelvic lymph node radiation. The purpose of this review is to summarize the technical aspects of IMRT planning and delivery, and to review the literature supporting the use of IMRT for prostate cancer.