Yes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the CyberKnife System for the treatment of tumors in the head, neck and upper spine in 1999 and for the treatment tumors anywhere in the body where radiation is indicated in 2001.
As of June 2009 more than 70,000 patients have been treated worldwide by the CyberKnife System. More than half of those patients were treated with lesions or tumors outside of the brain and head.
Conventional radiation therapy (radiotherapy) administers a broad beam of radiation from one to two directions in 30 to 45 treatments. It delivers low-dose beams of radiation over a period of 6 to 8 weeks – the time required to allow healthy tissue damaged during treatment to recover. CyberKnife radiosurgery delivers high-dose beams of radiation – which can be more effective in killing tumors anywhere in the body. This system can deliver radiation beams from virtually unlimited directions with sub-millimeter accuracy. With radiosurgery, damage to surrounding healthy tissue is minimized; therefore the treatment can be completed typically in one to five days.
CyberKnife is able to confidently treat tumors with minimal harm to surrounding healthy tissue by delivering high doses of radiation with sub-millimeter accuracy (within the width of a hair).
CyberKnife can treat tumors anywhere in the body from any angle including the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas and prostate.
CyberKnife continually tracks tumor position, detects any tumor or patient movement and automatically corrects the treatment delivery – without the need to manually reposition the patient or interrupt the treatment.
CyberKnife provides a pain-free, non-invasive alternative for patients. There is no invasive frame attached to the skull and treatments can be divided into multiple days (no more than five), allowing for better side effect management.
Depending on tumor location, there may be side effects. Any side effects are generally short-lasting and disappear shortly following treatment completion. Possible side effects for the following treatment types are:
- Brain tumors: Headache, dizziness or nausea. These are generally mild, if they occur at all.
- Prostate cancer: Most common side effect is increased frequency of urination.
- Lung tumors: Rare side effects, dependent on tumor location.
No. You should feel no pain, heat or discomfort while you are undergoing treatment. You must lie still on the treatment table for 25-55 minutes, and can be interrupted if the patient needs to stretch.
If the tumor isn’t removed, where does it go once the damage is done? During treatment, the radiation delivered to the tumor damages the unhealthy tissue beyond repair and stops its ability to replicate, divide and grow further. This will halt tumor growth. Some of the tumor tissue will get absorbed by the body, some of it will become scar tissue; the tumor may not go away completely, but will shrink.
During treatment, low dose X-rays are taken to determine if there has been any movement of the tumors. The X-rays are digitally super-imposed over the original treatment planning scans and indicate if the tumor has moved from the original plan.
Yes. There is no sedation or medication given during your treatment that would make you unable to drive. You will not be impaired physically during treatment. Your clinical staff will let you know if someone should drive you home.
You will be lying still on a table listening to music of your choice while the CyberKnife moves around you delivering treatment beams. You won’t see anything coming out of the CyberKnife, you will hear a humming in the background and shouldn’t feel anything.
Follow-up is different for everyone, but typically you will have a follow-up appointment two weeks following your treatment completion. Two months following treatment completion, we will obtain either a CT, MRI or blood work (depending on tumor type and anatomy). Further scan types and times will be at the physician’s discretion.