Tomotherapy is a type of radiation therapy to kill tumour cells in the body and is a treatment method for tumours. This therapy damages the cancer cell's DNA and prevents cancer cells from further division and growth. It is an advanced radiation therapy used to treat cancerous and noncancerous tumours.
Tomotherapy, also known as helical tomotherapy, is intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The therapy is commonly used to treat prostate, brain, lung, breast, head, and neck cancers. Combined with CT scanning, it is an advanced technology that gives accurate and precise treatment, using powerful radiation beams to treat inoperable tumours.
In tomotherapy, radiation beams are aimed at the tumour from multiple directions. The treatment uses a CT scanner that rotates in a spiral pattern around the patient. Before the treatment, 3D images of the tumour are taken, which helps the doctor examine the tumour's size and spread. This process helps the doctor analyse the right intensity of radiation to kill the tumour cells without causing much damage to nearby tissue.
The primary goal of the treatment is to target the tumour cells and to control and limit the side effects and damage to nearby tissue.
Why is Tomotherapy Unique?
Tomotherapy uses imaging procedures that provide images of the moving tumours (tumours can slightly move from their place). With the help of these images, doctors can target these tumours precisely without causing any harm to nearby tissues or organs.
The technique is noninvasive and continuously monitors the targeted area by the radiation. IMRT breaks the radiation waves into tiny beams that enter the body from multiple angles and attack the tumour. This treatment efficiently delivers high-dose radiation beams to the targeted area.
Which Diseases Can Be Treated With Tomotherapy treatment?
Some cancers that can be treated with chemotherapy treatment are:
- Breast cancer: The treatment is beneficial for breast cancer as it concentrates on cancer cells and avoids surrounding healthy tissue and organs such as the heart and lungs.
- Rectal cancer: Radiation is directly aimed at the rectal cancer cell preventing damage to tissue and small bowel.
- Lung cancer: The treatment limits the beam exposure to the lungs and causes no harm to the heart and spinal cord.
- Brain tumours: Tomotherapy targets the tumour cells in the brain while preserving the cognitive functions of the brain.
- Head and neck cancers: The therapy is highly beneficial for head and neck cancers as it directly focuses on the tumour cells, even if they are situated very close to the spine, salivary gland, or other organs, without causing much damage to them.
- Paediatric tumours: No radiation treatment is as effective as tomotherapy as it minimises the radiation dose making it an ideal treatment for cancer in children.
- Gynaecological cancer: Cervical and endometrial cancers can be effectively treated without causing any damage to the rectum and bladder with therapy treatment.
Tomotherapy Treatment Process
Tomotherapy efficiently integrates planning patient positioning and radiation treatment with one machine. The tomotherapy treatment is painless, and each session lasts 10 to 20 minutes.
- The surgery begins with 3D imaging of the body. The images are used to check the exact shape, size and location of the tumour. Sometimes the tumour may shift in position. The CT images help decide the amount of radiation needed to kill the tumour cell while causing minimum damage to surrounding healthy cells.
- The doctor may ask the patient to lie on their back and may fit the patient with the device to keep in position and still during the treatment.
- Small markings can be made onto the skin to line with the radiation equipment.
- Beams of radiation rotate around the body, entering from multiple directions to kill the tumour cells.
- The computer monitors the delivery of the radiation beams and their predetermined intensity.
Post Tomotherapy Treatment
After the treatment, the patient will be monitored closely to check for side effects.
The doctor may ask to undergo imaging tests to examine the efficiency of radiation and treatment. If a patient observes any side effects or allergic reactions to the radiation treatment, consult the doctor immediately.
How is Tomotherapy Useful?
Tomotherapy is used:
- To decrease the existing symptoms of cancer or tumour in advance
- As a primary treatment for cancer
- To treat cancer in its later stages and can be used in combination with other treatments.
- To shrink down a tumour before surgery
- As a secondary treatment to kill any remaining cancer or tumour cells.
Advantages of Tomotherapy
Tomotherapy has several advantages such as:
- Highly targeted radiation precisely kills tumour cells causing less damage to healthy cells
- High-dose treatment, which increases treatment effectiveness
- Treatment is precise and less time consuming
- Being a targeted therapy, lesser risk of side effects and complications
- Flexible treatment that targets vital organs and complex parts.
- It is a painless procedure with quick recovery
- No anaesthesia needed
Tomotherapy Treatment Risk and Side Effects
Radiation treatment often causes side effects. The side effects depend on the amount of radiation the body part is under treatment. Therapy can cause temporary side effects, including:
Prognosis or Outlook for the Patients
Tomotherapy may cause few side effects but is highly effective. It may take a few days or weeks to recover from the side effects. The outlook for patients is good as the therapy completely eradicates the cancer cells while preserving the healthy cells.
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