TomoTherapy®: How It Works & Its Advantages

Radiation therapy, a non-invasive procedure that destroys and damages cancer cells to stop them from growing, is one the most common treatments for cancer. About half of all cancer patients will have some type of radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. SSM Health Cancer Care is proud to be one of the first treatment centers in the country to deliver radiation therapy with the TomoTherapy® Hi-Art System. This system combines imaging and radiation delivery to target cancer more precisely.

If you’re facing a cancer diagnosis, schedule an appointment at an SSM Health Cancer Care facility to learn how we combine the latest advances in cancer treatment with compassionate care to support you on your cancer journey.

What is TomoTherapy®?

TomoTherapy® is a new way to deliver radiation treatment in the fight against cancer. The process combines treatment planning, CT image-guided patient positioning and treatment delivery into one integrated system.

The equipment used for TomoTherapy® looks much like a computed tomography (CT) system. During treatment, the patient lies on a couch that moves continuously through a rotating ring. Radiation is delivered from all angles as the ring turns and the couch moves through the gantry.

Advantages of TomoTherapy®

With TomoTherapy®, physicians can adjust the size, shape and intensity of the radiation beam to accurately target the size, shape and location of the patient's tumor. This offers several advantages, including:

  • Verifying the location of each tumor before treatment
  • Targeting tumors with optimal levels of radiation
  • Minimizing the damage to surrounding, healthy areas
  • Reducing the side effects of radiation therapy

How Does TomoTherapy® Treatment Work?

Treatment Planning

Before beginning TomoTherapy® treatment, your physician uses 3D images and special software to define the precise contours for each tumor. Your physician also decides how much radiation the tumor should receive, as well as acceptable radiation levels for surrounding tissue and organs. From there, the technology calculates the appropriate pattern, position and intensity of the radiation to be delivered.

CT Image-Guided Patient Positioning

Precise patient positioning is crucial for effective radiation treatment. With the TomoTherapy Hi·Art System®, your physician can take a special CT scan just before each treatment to verify your tumor's location and adjust the positioning, if necessary. This is extremely useful since your position may change slightly from session to session and certain types of tumors, such as prostate cancers, can change shape or shift from day-to-day. With this technology, physicians can make sure that the radiation is directed precisely from one session to the next.

Radiation Delivery

TomoTherapy® combines intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with a spiral delivery pattern. This means that radiation can be delivered from all around you, which helps ensures the treatment is confined to your tumor.

Find an SSM Health Cancer Care provider near you to learn more about your treatment options and whether you may be a candidate for this therapy. Remember, the cancer care team at SSM Health is with you every step of the way and can help guide you as you undergo treatment.

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