What is TomoTherapy®?

TomoTherapy® is an advanced treatment for cancer that uses radiation to destroy or shrink tumors. It combines the precision of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with the real-time accuracy of CT scanning (also known as image-guided radiation therapy, or IGRT).

Before each treatment, a clinician will take 3D CT scans of your cancer. These scans:

  • Confirm the exact location of cancer in your body.
  • Show whether your tumor has changed size or position since your last treatment.
  • Allow your care team to ensure your current radiation plan does not need to be modified.

What is TomoTherapy® Used For?

Because of its accuracy and ability to shape radiation dose, TomoTherapy® is ideal for tumors that are hard to reach, or next to vital organs. It is often used to treat cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, brain and other structures in the head or neck. In addition, it can treat multiple tumors at one time.

TomoTherapy® also reduces the long-term side effects of “radiation re-treatment,” or reirradiation. This is when radiation therapy is used a second time, to treat cancer that has come back.

Benefits of TomoTherapy®

All types of radiation therapy kill cancer cells. But TomoTherapy® offers several advantages. These include:

  • Improved monitoring of tumor position and size in real-time.
  • More targeted radiation shaped to your tumor.
  • Higher doses of radiation are sent to the tumor, potentially increasing the efficacy of treatment.
  • A markedly reduced amount of radiation reaches healthy organs and tissue next to the tumor. This helps reduce side effects and long-term complications.

What to Expect from a TomoTherapy® Treatment

Your Mercy care team will make sure you understand what to expect before, during and after TomoTherapy® treatment. For example:

  • Some patients need to have tiny tattoos inked on their skin. These marks help your care team line up the radiation equipment with the treatment area.
  • You may also need to use a custom-fit, molded device. It will help you get into the same position before each treatment and stay still during treatment.
  • TomoTherapy®, like all radiation therapy techniques, may cause temporary side effects. These often include fatigue and skin changes (such as redness, itching or peeling). You may also have side effects in the specific part of your body receiving radiation. For example, if your cancer is in your head, you may have headaches, hair loss or dry eyes.
  • Like any medical treatment, TomoTherapy® poses immediate or long-term risks. Our team will make sure you're fully informed before you begin treatment. If your doctor recommends this treatment, it’s because he or she believes the benefits outweigh the risks. Your care team will carefully plan your treatments to ensure they are safe and effective.

If you have questions or concerns about TomoTherapy®, don’t hesitate to talk to one of your Mercy caregivers. We will be at your side every step of the way, to help you get rid of your cancer and get back to doing all the things you love.

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