A Publication of WTVP

When it comes to prostate cancer, TomoTherapy is a growing treatment option. Cancer patients in central Illinois now have two locations to access one of the world’s most advanced cancer treatment systems.

TomoTherapy has been available at Methodist Medical Center since January 2008, and starting in August, Methodist will operate a second facility at Peoria Radiation Therapy Services at 7309 North Knoxville. The second location is a joint venture between Methodist Medical Center and the Midwest Urological Group. Treatment focus at the second site will be on prostate cancer patients, but other cancers may eventually be treated as well.

TomoTherapy is the first system to combine the precision and 3-D imaging of a CT (computerized tomography) scan with the power of high-energy radiation treatment. With TomoTherapy, physicians are able to selectively destroy cancerous tumors while avoiding surrounding tissue. This means more of the healthy tissue in a cancer patient is spared.

Cancerous tumors can change shape and location from day to day. With this new equipment, physicians can produce a 3-D image before each treatment to pinpoint the tumor for the most accurate treatment. They can then deliver a painless and precise radiation therapy based on a customized plan for each patient.

Also, unlike conventional radiotherapy, which delivers a wide beam of radiation from just two or three directions, TomoTherapy combines sophisticated IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) with a unique spiral delivery pattern. Radiation is directed precisely at the target from an infinite number of angles.

Dr. Roby Lal, radiation oncologist at Methodist, said, “Since we first opened the in-house TomoTherapy unit last year, we’re seeing significant success with our patients. Fewer side effects allow us to escalate the treatment dosage and have better patient outcomes.” Dr. Lal added that the addition of the second TomoTherapy location “will significantly increase our outreach in the community and allow additional access to this groundbreaking treatment.”

While the TomoTherapy system is not for every cancer patient, it does provide new treatment options for patients diagnosed with previously untreatable tumors. People with tumors in difficult-to-treat areas such as the spine, lung, throat or upper abdomen now have the option of the new TomoTherapy system because of its pinpoint accuracy.

TomoTherapy also can improve current prostate treatments by enabling doctors to treat the prostate with higher doses of radiation while reducing exposure to surrounding vital areas. Patients experience fewer side effects for a better quality of life.

The equipment used for TomoTherapy looks much like a CT machine. A patient lies on the machine bench, which moves continuously through a rotating ring. This ring is home to a linear accelerator, which delivers radiation while the ring turns. The radiation beam is able to make a spiral pattern around the patient, targeting tumors in the most precise way possible. TomoTherapy is FDA-approved and is covered by most insurance plans. iBi