Conventional radiation therapy delivers a wide beam of radiation from only a few angles. The TomoTherapy treatment system uses its unique CT scanner design to deliver radiation continuously from all angles around the patient, delivering precise beams that conform to tumors and minimize healthy tissue damage. Gamma West Cancer Services offers several TomoTherapy treatment locations in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tomotherapy treatments are available at St. Mark’s Hospital, Davis Hospital and at our new TomoTherapy Treatment Center in St. George. Currently, we are the only organization in Utah to offer this revolutionary, curative treatment for cancer.
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Benefits of TomoTherapy Treatment for Cancer
- Use daily CT imaging to guide treatment based on patient anatomy for that day, rather than for last week or last month
- Customize delivery for each patient, surrounding the target with highly-precise radiation delivered from all angles
- Minimize radiation exposure to healthy tissue
- If necessary, adapt the treatment plan at any point
About five years ago, the first patient was treated on a TomoTherapy system. Today, thousands are being treated on more than 150 systems installed in centers around the world.
For more than 80 years, radiation therapy has been used in cancer care. The primary challenges have remained the same:
- How can doctors be sure the beam is reaching the tumor as planned?
- How can harm to healthy tissue around the tumor be minimized?
360 Degree Delivery
Conventional machine design allows radiation to be delivered from only a few directions. The TomoTherapy treatment system’s linear accelerator (linac) is mounted to a CT scanner-like ring gantry, which means TomoTherapy treatments, can be delivered continuously, from all angles around the patient. More beam directions give physicians more control in how they plan treatments–and more assurance that dose will be confined to the tumor, reducing the risk of short- and long-term side effects.
Thousands of Targeted Beamlets
The TomoTherapy treatment system uses a patented multi-leaf collimator (MLC) that divides the radiation beam into beamlets, all aimed at the tumor. Typically, tens of thousands of beamlets are used in a single TomoTherapy treatment session. Powerful software optimizes the contribution of each one to the total tumor dose, minimizing exposure to healthy tissue.
CTrue Image Guidance for Every Patient, Every Day
The unique ring gantry design facilitates a 360° delivery pattern. Perhaps even more importantly, it integrates true CT imaging that can be used on a daily basis to guide the accurate delivery of each treatment session. No other radiation therapy machine offers this seamless integration of image-guided and intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
The TomoTherapy Process
The TomoTherapy system introduces a new, integrated way to deliver radiation treatments for cancer. The process makes it easier on clinicians and patients alike.
Before beginning a TomoTherapy treatment, the doctor uses 3D images from a combination of scanning technologies (such as CT and MRI) and special software to establish the precise contours for each treatment volume (tumor) and any regions at risk (sensitive organs or structures). The doctor then decides how much radiation the tumor should receive, as well as acceptable levels for surrounding structures. The Hi•Art treatment system calculates the appropriate pattern, position and intensity of the radiation beam to be delivered, to match the doctor’s prescription as closely as possible.
As both a treatment delivery machine and a CT scanner, the TomoTherapy system allows doctors to take a CT scan just before each treatment. With the scan, they can verify the position of the tumor and, if necessary, adjust the patient’s position to help make sure radiation is directed right where it should be.
The TomoTherapy treatment system delivers intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with a helical (spiral) delivery pattern. Photon radiation is produced by a linear accelerator (or linac for short), which travels in multiple circles around the patient and moves in unison with a device called a multi-leaf collimator, or MLC. Meanwhile, the couch is also moving–guiding the patient slowly through the center of the ring. Each time the linac makes a loop around the patient it directs a unique, optimized set of radiation beamlets at the tumor. Quite literally, the Tomo process runs rings around cancer!
How Long Will the Procedure Take?
The full TomoTherapy treatment typically takes 10-20 minutes from when the patient enters the treatment room until they leave. This includes daily CT scanning and treatment (“beam-on time”) time as well as patient set-up, positioning and image registration to ensure accuracy. The actual time will vary by patient. Why perform a CT scan every day?
CTrue imaging, available only from the TomoTherapy system, allows clinicians to see what they plan to treat immediately prior to beginning each treatment fraction. This is important because anatomy can change from day to day. CTrue helps ensure that the tumor will not be under-dosed, and that radiation exposure to surrounding tissue will be minimized according to plan. In addition, daily CT scans can be used to adapt a treatment plan, if necessary.