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Health Information Zeroing in on Cancer

What doctors see is what they will get — literally — with a new form of cancer treatment now available at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

TomoTherapy is unique in that it addresses two important aspects of cancer treatment simultaneously with one device: finding the exact location of a tumor and destroying it.

"With TomoTherapy we take computed tomography (CT) scans to provide the most current view of the tumor and treat that spot at the same time," says Katherine L. Griem, MD, a radiation oncologist at Rush.

Three-dimensional images from the CT scan and special software help the doctor plot the exact location of a tumor and all the areas around it that should be protected from radiation. Once the doctor determines how much radiation the tumor should receive and how much radiation surrounding areas can receive, the system calculates the pattern, position and intensity of the radiation beam that the machine will deliver.

Taking a CT scan immediately before treatment ensures that doctors can verify a tumor's location and adjust the patient's position if necessary to make sure the radiation reaches its precise target.

Because of the remarkable accuracy of TomoTherapy, it is possible to direct a higher dose of radiation at a tumor with a lower risk of affecting surrounding tissues and organs.

According to Griem, TomoTherapy is likely to be used initially on cancers of the prostate and of the head and neck — areas where precise radiation delivery is especially important. Eventually, however, Griem expects it will be used to treat other cancers, including breast cancer.


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • Looking for more information about radiation oncology services at Rush, visit the Radiation Oncology home page.
  • Looking for more information about cancer care at Rush, visit the Cancer Programs home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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