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Radiation Oncology




Radiation Oncology - About TomoTherapy


Sibley Memorial Hospital is fortunate to have the Kay Suite housing the only TomoTherapy machine in DC.  TomoTherapy is one of several radiation delivery systems that use image guidance to improve the accuracy of radiation treatment.  TomoTherapy is equipped with a helical CT scanner that allows daily verification of the tumor position within millimeters of certainty before the radiation beam is even turned on.  With this technology, the physician can also account for daily variation in a target’s location due to normal physiologic processes and minor changes in how a patient is lying on the treatment machine.  This is particularly imperative for treatment to moving targets such as the prostate or when the target is relatively small, as in the case of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).  
Many patients ask how TomoTherapy compares with other systems such as the Cyberknife.  We believe the advantages with TomoTherapy are two-fold:
  • With TomoTherapy, the physician is able to verify the actual tumor position using the three-dimensional image guidance of a CT scan at the time of treatment.  Cyberknife, on the other hand, is based on a program that aims the radiation at a clip or implanted marker that acts as a proxy for the tumor.
  • TomoTherapy is able to address multiple tumor targets at the same time whereas Cyberknife can only target a single lesion at one time.

What Cancers Can TomoTherapy Treat?

TomoTherapy highly effective in treating cancers with well-defined tumors. TomoTherapy is ideal for treating prostate cancer, head and neck cancer, brain cancer, cancer of the spine, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer in certain areas of the lung. TomoTherapy delivers radiation with such precision, even tumors on or near critical structures can potentially be treated with little or no damage to healthy tissue or organs.

What Are The Benefits Of TomoTherapy?

TomoTherapy's helical delivery reduces chances of skin irritation and hair loss, since there is no one specific dose entry or exit spot. With TomoTherapy, it is entirely possible that many brain tumor patients will have no hair loss, and spine tumor patients will have complete relief of pain with no side effects. Prostate cancer patients may have noticeably fewer bladder and rectal side effects.
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