What is the CyberKnife® System?
The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is a non-invasive alternative
to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
anywhere in the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver,
pancreas and kidney. The treatment – which delivers beams of high
dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy – offers new hope
to patients worldwide.
Though its name may conjure images of scalpels and surgery, the CyberKnife
treatment involves no cutting. In fact, the CyberKnife System is the world’s
first and only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout
the body non-invasively. It provides a pain-free, non-surgical option
for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who
may be looking for an alternative to surgery.
With the CyberKnife System, patients can complete treatment in one to
five days, compared to the weeks it takes to complete a course of conventional
radiation therapy. In addition, it provides a pain-free, non-surgical
option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors,
or who may be looking for an alternative to surgery.
How is the CyberKnife System® Unique?
The CyberKnife® System is a one-of-a-kind device for several reasons.
First, the CyberKnife System uses image guidance software to track and
continually adjust treatment for any patient or tumor movement. This sets
it far ahead of other similar treatments. It allows patients to breathe
normally and relax comfortably during treatment.
Second, some forms of radiosurgery require rigid head-frames that are
screwed into the patient’s skull to minimize any movement. The CyberKnife
System does not require such extreme procedures to keep patients in place,
and instead relies on sophisticated tracking software, allowing for a
much more comfortable and non-invasive treatment.
Third, unlike some radiosurgery systems, which can only treat tumors in
the head, the CyberKnife System has unlimited reach to treat a broad range
of tumors throughout the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine,
liver, pancreas, and kidney.
And finally, the CyberKnife System’s treatment accuracy is unrivaled.
Its ability to treat tumors with pin-point accuracy is unmatched by other
radiation therapy and radiosurgery systems. The CyberKnife System can
essentially “paint” the tumor with radiation allowing it to
precisely deliver treatment to the tumor alone, sparing surrounding healthy tissue.
Benefits of the CyberKnife® Treatments
- No anesthesia required
- Outpatient procedure
- Exceptional accuracy spares healthy tissue and organs
- No recovery time
- Immediate return to normal activity
- No invasive head or body frame
- No breath holding or “respiratory gating” required during treatment
CyberKnife® patients routinely report that they have no side effects
or minimal side effects from their treatment, and in most cases, they
can immediately return to their normal daily activities. Speak with your
doctor about possible side effects you may encounter.
What is the Treatment Process?
After or during your diagnoses, your physician will determine if you may
benefit from the CyberKnife treatment. If you are a candidate, you can
expect that your CyberKnife treatment(s) will involve a team approach
in which several medical professionals will collaborate to develop a treatment
plan designed just for you.
The CyberKnife treatment process generally requires six simple steps from
start to finish:
- Evaluation – After being diagnosed, you can contact a CyberKnife
center directly or have your treating doctor provide you with a referral.
Though it may vary based on your specific treatment, you will likely work
with a team of clinicians, including a radiation oncologist, surgeon,
medical physicist, radiation technician and nurse coordinator.
- Fiducial Placement – Depending on the type and location of your tumor,
your team may recommend placement of fiducials – which are small
gold markers inserted near the tumor – to help identify the exact
location of your tumor during treatment. Not all treatments require fiducial
markers. The determination will be made based on the density, size and
location of the tumor.
- Imaging – Prior to treatment, an MRI and a CT or CT/PET scan is taken
to determine the size, shape and location of your tumor(s).
- Treatment Planning – Using images from a CT scan, the data is digitally
transferred to the CyberKnife® System’s treatment planning workstation,
where a qualified physician identifies the tumor(s) to be targeted and
the surrounding vital structures to be avoided. This plan is designed
to match the desired radiation dose to the tumor location and limit Radiation
exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
- Treatment – Once the treatment plan is developed, you can begin your
CyberKnife treatments. At the CyberKnife center, you will be comfortably
positioned on the treatment table. Then the CyberKnife System’s
computer-controlled robot will carefully move around you to deliver radiation
at various locations as prescribed by your treatment plan. At the same
time, the CyberKnife System is taking continual X-ray images that will
provide real-time information about the location of your tumor and enable
the system to dynamically track and correct for any movement of your tumor.
Depending on the type and location of your tumor, you can expect to undergo
between one and five treatment sessions.
- Recovery – Most CyberKnife patients do not experience side effects.
Depending on the type of treatment you receive, your side effects will
vary. Patients that do experience side effects are typically mild and
considered acute and do not require intervention. Patients should speak
to their doctor and discuss what side effects may occur and learn about