TomoTherapy, a Targeted Approach to Cancer Therapy

Star athletes know the clearer the objective the surer the victory. What is true on the playing field is also true in the medical clinic. Doctors can treat a disease better when they can see the progress of that disease more clearly. A device and a process called TomoTherapy has been developed which is a revolutionary way to not only see but target cancer cells. Over ten years ago researchers at the University of Wisconsin set out to discover a better way to deliver intensity-modulated radiotherapy or IMRT. The Result became TomoTherapy. The system can deliver radiation treatment to the patient’s tumor while helping to limit damage as much as possible to the surrounding tissues. Paul Reckwerdt President of TomoTherapy explains. “We noticed the problems in a radio therapy clinic is the fact that there are many separate processes through the whole clinic and we realized that if anyone of those failed or the communication between any of these processes failed the treatment was sub-optimal. And so what we did was we integrated all the processes you would need to treat, plan, everything, and validate the patient into one machine.” In addition that one machine offers a much more targeted delivery of radiation. “Basically the TomoTherapy approach is delivering from many different directionalities, so the doctor can carefully sculpt around sensitive structures and really hit and accumulate the dose very well into the tumor.” Says Reckwerdt.

The effectiveness of the platform has been proven in cancer centers across the country. Patients who have received the treatment experience few complications, and the imaging capabilities of the system allow for improved monitoring of potential tumor re-growth. Dr. Eric Rost of The Cancer Treatment Center Southeast Regional Hospital in Florida found, “The advantages of TomoTherapy are twofold. One, not only can we combine and conform the radiation to a precision that we were never able to before. But we also can image and apply the radiation in a dynamic field, so that each treatment is assured to be correct.” And Dr. Patrick Kupelian of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando said, “For the treatments that we’ve delivered it’s been very successful so far. In the short term I think we’ll be able to demonstrate that the side effects associated with treatment are lower, and hopefully long term we will be able to demonstrate that the cure rates are better with this type of device.”

Patients report far less radiation related side effects, and quicker recoveries. “âÂ?¦the side effects were so minimal I was able to continue working, continue my life with very few side effects, if I had received conventional radio therapy I had been so sick I wouldn’t have been able to work or perform in my normal functions of daily living.”

Doctors feel that this device is analogous to the first microscopes. It is allowing them to see things they have never been able to see before. And that in turn is helping to develop new treatments that are turning many cancer victims into cancer survivors.

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