What is TomoTherapy®?

TomoTherapy® is both a radiation delivery system and a CT scanner that provides 3D images before each treatment. It’s a form of image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) used to treat prostate, breast, lung, brain, head and neck cancers. TomoTherapy uses intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to match radiation intensity to tumor shapes, sparing more healthy tissue. It delivers radiation by rotating around the body, aiming targeted beams at tumors from many angles.

What Is TomoTherapy Used For?

TomoTherapy’s accuracy, modulation and 360-degree delivery make it ideal for tumors that are hard to reach or next to vital organs. It’s also used to treat multiple tumors at once and re-treat areas, with fewer side effects.

How Does TomoTherapy Work?

Mercy radiation oncology teams develop treatment plans using 3D images taken before treatment. This allows them to pinpoint tumor size, shape and location and determine radiation doses. The TomoTherapy system then calculates precise patterns, positions and intensity of radiation based on the prescribed doses. Treatment is delivered with highly targeted radiation beams directed at tumors from multiple angles.

Advantages of TomoTherapy

TomoTherapy offers several advantages, including:

  • Real-time imaging of tumors for treatment planning
  • Targeted radiation precisely shaped to tumors
  • Higher-dose radiation delivery, potentially increasing treatment effectiveness
  • Less radiation of healthy organs and tissues, reducing side effects and complications
Coordinated Radiation Oncology Care

Treating the whole patient requires a whole team. At Mercy, your radiation oncology team includes oncologists, physician assistants, radiation therapists, nurses, medical physicists, dosimetrists and other professionals who provide coordinated care and support.

What to Expect From TomoTherapy Treatment

Your Mercy care team provides an outpatient treatment schedule, which typically includes daily treatments over one to eight weeks. Each TomoTherapy session lasts about 10-20 minutes.

When you arrive for treatment, you’ll be taken to the TomoTherapy treatment room, where a Mercy radiation therapist will help you get positioned. You’ll most likely lie on your back, and the therapist may fit you with a device to help you remain still during treatment. Tiny markings may be made on your skin to line up equipment with the treatment area.

You’ll move through the TomoTherapy machine once for pre-treatment imaging. Based on these images, your radiation plan or position may be adjusted. Then, you’ll move through the machine again slowly as customized treatment is delivered.

TomoTherapy is noninvasive and as painless as a CT scan or x-ray.

TomoTherapy Side Effects & Risks

TomoTherapy can cause temporary side effects like nausea, fatigue or skin irritation. You may also have side effects in the area treated. For example, if your cancer is in your head, you may have headaches, hair loss or dry eyes.

Most side effects go away after treatment ends, but it’s possible to have long-lasting effects or experience them months or years later. Talk with your Mercy care team about potential side effects and ways to manage them.

Questions about TomoTherapy? Talk with one of your Mercy caregivers. They’re here to help you fight cancer and get back to doing the things you love.

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