Tomotherapy is an advanced method to deliver radiation treatment to fight cancer. This process combines a 3D image study of the cancerous region, patient positioning, treatment planning, and delivery into a single integrated system. The equipment used for tomotherapy is a Computed Tomography System or CT system. With the use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), tomotherapy matches the radiation intensity that is to be delivered to the tumors, keeping the healthy tissues around it safe.
Tomotherapy is a method that treats cancer tumors which are present anywhere in the body.
How is it Performed
For each session of tomotherapy and effective radiation treatment, precise patient positioning is important. Therefore, to verify the position and location of the tumor, your doctor will take a CT scan before each tomotherapy treatment. This step is crucial, since a change in position may also change the locations of tumors. Especially with some tumors, such as prostate cancer, the shift and the change happen daily. With advanced tomotherapy, doctors can ensure that the radiation is directed accurately from one session to the next.
The next step is the most important step of radiation delivery, through intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with a circular or spiral delivery pattern. This pattern ensures that radiation is delivered to the patient from all sides, which further guarantees that the treatment is confined only to the tumor.
During the tomotherapy treatment, you will be asked to lie on a couch that moves constantly inside the equipment through a rotating ring. Radiation is therefore delivered from each angle (360 degrees) as the couch moves and turns through the gantry.
You are likely to be asked by your doctor to follow a specific diet before the procedure.
You may be asked by your doctor to either avoid certain medications or stop them altogether.
Before beginning the tomotherapy treatment, your doctor will use special software and 3D images to define the contours of each tumor. They will also decide the amount of radiation each tumor will receive.
From this point onward, the technology will calculate the best position, pattern, and intensity of the radiation that is to be delivered.
The tomotherapy procedure follows an outpatient treatment schedule and generally includes daily treatments that range from one week to eight weeks.
Once your therapy is over, you will need to visit your doctor to review the progress and monitor the results of the treatment or therapy.
The potential risks and side effects of tomotherapy are moderate and do not last long. The possible side effects vary from patient to patient depending on the size of the tumor and its location, radiation dosage, and treatment plan, a few common risks include:
Headache and nausea
Dry eyes, mouth, and throat
Skin irritation and rashes
Difficulty in eating
Loss of appetite
Changes in the bladder or urinary systems
Most of the side effects that are caused due to tomotherapy usually subside after the treatment ends. However, you may continue to feel tired for about four to six weeks after you receive your last tomotherapy treatment. While you will need extra rest as your tissues will heal and regenerate, you need to be gentle and careful with your skin in the treatment area, as your skin will require more time to heal. It is also important to note that side effects can recur after several months or even years after the treatment. It is best to speak to your doctor regarding measures you can take to recover faster and curb any recurring side effects.