Tomotherapy is all about precision & efficiency

With Tomotherapy, physicians can adjust the size, shape and intensity of the radiation beam to accurately target the size, shape and location of the patient's tumor, writes Dr S Hukku, Senior Consultant & Chairman, Radiation Oncology, BLK Super Speciality Hospital


Advancement in radiation therapy has transformed the entire procedures which are deployed to treat patient suffering from critical life threatening diseases such as cancer. Oncologists, surgeons and Radiation experts, after first-hand experience with Tomotherapy, have been convinced with its efficacy and outcomes. Precision and speed are two key features which make tomotherapy, the most sought-after advanced radiation machine.

Patients reeling from diagnoses need precise and effective treatment to get their lives back. Treatment teams need next-level precision, speed and efficiency to improve patient outcomes. Clinical practices need to treat a broad range of indications with superior outcomes. Tomotherapy’s latest version -The Radixact Treatment Delivery System- enables all of this with a fully integrated platform for intelligent treatment planning, data management and treatment delivery.

Using a refined x-ray beamline and next-generation imaging technology, the system delivers scalable and highly reliable treatments for patients with a variety of individual treatment needs. Tomotherapy has come as a boon to cancer patients. It is now used as a curative treatment for cancer, the second leading cause of death across the world. With the most recent introduction of Tomotherapy, the radiation oncology has touched an all new high in the race of effective curative treatment for serious illnesses. In India, a very few health institutions are equipped with tomotherapy. BLK Super Specialty Hospital has now acquired the latest version of the machine for tomotherapy- Radixact.

Cancer patients require radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. Tomotherapy is marked as the latest and the smartest radiation therapy to trick and treat the most complicated of cancers.  What makes doctors so confident in this technology is the fact that unlike the former techniques of radiation for cancer, Tomotherapy works in a much unique way. This system combines imaging and radiation delivery to target cancer more precisely.

What makes it unique?

Efficiency of the Tomotherapy can be gauged with the fact that is a systematic process that combines treatment planning, CT image-guided patient positioning and treatment delivery into one integrated system. It helps in calculating the shrinkage of the cancer caused after each cycle, allowing the doctors to plan the next steps as per requirements.

Although it has been in use since the beginning of this century, but the introduction of this treatment process in India is regarded as a ground-breaking development in the healthcare space of the country. The procedure begins with treatment planning. With the use of 3D images and special software, the precise contour for each tumor is defined. How much radiation the tumor should receive, as well as acceptable radiation levels for surrounding tissue and organs are also some of the matters that get decided in the stage of planning. From there, the technology calculates the appropriate pattern, position and intensity of the radiation to be delivered.

Next in line is the CT Image-Guided Patient Positioning. Precision in patient positioning is crucial for effective radiation treatment. With Radixact 9, a special CT scan is taken just before each treatment to verify the tumor’s location and adjust the positioning, if necessary. This is extremely useful since with every session the position may change slightly and certain types of tumors, such as prostate cancers, can change shape or shift from day-to-day. With this technology, physicians can make sure that the radiation is directed precisely from one session to the next.

With Tomotherapy, physicians can adjust the size, shape and intensity of the radiation beam to accurately target the size, shape and location of the patient’s tumor.The equipment used for Tomotherapy looks much like a computed tomography (CT) system. During treatment, the patient lies on a couch that moves continuously through a rotating ring. Radiation is delivered from all angles as the ring turns and the couch moves through the gantry.

Overall, Tomo Therapy is an all- in- one advanced form of  treatment that combines Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) with the accuracy of Computed Tomography (CT) scanning technology (IGRT- Image Guided Radiotherapy). The procedure in its final stage combines IMRT with a spiral delivery pattern which means radiation can be delivered from all around the body, which helps ensure the treatment is confined to the tumor.

About Author: Dr. S Hukku is a Senior Consultant and Chairman, Radiation Oncology, BLK Super Speciality Hospital. He has served at dozens of prominent hospitals across India in his career that spans decades. Dr Hukku was first to initiate stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiotherapy (SRS/SRT) in India in 1996. He first initiated Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) in North India in 2002. He has served as the President of Association of Radiation Oncologists of India and Expert at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Vienna Austria.

*Views expressed in the above article are strictly of the author.