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Tomotherapy: A new kind of high-precision radiotherapy in the fight against cancer at the MUHC

The MUHC is proud to announce the inauguration of a new $3-million tomotherapy machine, the first of its kind in Quebec. Tomotherapy is an innovative technique used in treating cancerous tumours that are difficult to irradiate with classic techniques.

The latest in radiotherapy technology, this “image-guided radiotherapy” improves the accuracy of treatment and limits exposure to healthy tissues. Since tumours vary in size, location and their proximity to sensitive organs, tomotherapy offers a clear advantage when treating certain cancers and considerably improves the quality of patient care.

“We are very proud to have this new machine,” said Dr. Carolyn Freeman, MUHC Director of Radiation Oncology. “As a university health care centre, we are continuing our mandate by remaining on the cutting edge of technology and forging ahead in the fields of research and education.”

Tomotherapy is a new type of X-ray technology. It combines an intensity-modulated radiotherapy device with a scanner that detects the morphology of internal organs. The device travels around a patient lying down on a treatment table and delivers image-guided radiotherapy. This major technological innovation facilitates treatment through the delivery of intensity-modulated beams in three-dimensional space. “By combining an accelerator—which moves around and along the patient—with a scanner, this method provides continuous treatment no matter where the disease is located and follows the cancer’s progression over time,” stated Dr. Freeman.

Three-dimensional images precisely define tumour contours. These images allow doctors to adjust the size, shape and intensity of the beams in relation to the tumour’s unique characteristics, thus limiting the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation. If required, the scanner can also verify the location of the tumour before each treatment so that the patient’s treatment plan can be modified accordingly. A tumour can indeed move a few millimetres from one session to the next. “The advantage of this new technology for patients is that it improves the quality of care and treatment,” added Dr. Freeman.

About the McGill University Health Centre

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University — the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Seeta Ramdass | McGill University Health Centre
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