CyberKnife FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


What is CyberKnife radiosurgery?

The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is the most advanced system for the delivery of radiosurgery, a form of therapy that precisely focuses high doses of radiation to targeted body areas, such as cancerous tumors. Despite its name, CyberKnife involves no cutting or surgery.


How does CyberKnife differ from other cancer treatments?

CyberKnife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive, targeted therapy that requires fewer treatments and has virtually no side effects compared with conventional radiation therapy, surgery or chemotherapy.

Unlike treatments such as chemo that affects the entire body or open surgery, CyberKnife only treats a small, targeted area of the body without any incisions. This translates to less pain and virtually no recovery or down time for patients. Read How CyberKnife Compares with Other Treatments


How is CyberKnife different from radiation treatment?

Conventional radiation therapy administers a broad beam of low-dose radiation from only a few directions over a longer period of time. This limits how closely the tumor is covered with radiation and also exposes some of the healthy surrounding tissue to radiation.

Since CyberKnife radiosurgery delivers higher-dose, targeted beams (with sub-millimeter accuracy), it limits damage to surrounding tissue and requires fewer treatment sessions.


How does CyberKnife precisely focus the radiation?

Prior to the therapy, a patient undergoes imaging scans to help our radiation oncologist map the tumor. These scans may include computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET), ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The information from the scans is entered into the CyberKnife system’s computer to create a three-dimensional map of the tumor.


What can a patient expect when undergoing treatment?

During treatment, the patient lies on a table under a robotic device that delivers the radiation. Anova Cancer Care employs specially-trained physicists to oversee computer guidance of the robot, moving it around the patient and focusing precisely on the area of treatment.

Radiation dosage is calculated based on the location, density, size and shape of the targeted tumor. Tiny gold markers are sometimes positioned in or around the tumor to let the CyberKnife determine the real-time position of the tumor within a tenth of a millimeter in the head, and within one millimeter in other areas of the body. This helps incorporate adjustments for patient movement and breathing in targeting the radiation.

The treatment causes no pain, so anesthesia and pain medication are not needed. Nurses and doctors oversee the procedure going on in the treatment room with cameras and can hear and talk with the patient through an intercom system.


How long does CyberKnife treatment last?

CyberKnife treatment requires no hospitalization. One treatment process usually takes less than an hour and takes place in Anova’s office. Most patients complete their therapy after 1 to 5 treatments. There is no post-surgical recovery or rehabilitation and patients can go home immediately after the procedure.


How long does it take for treatment to take effect?

CyberKnife treatment results may take weeks or months to detect. The outcome depends on the condition being treated. Anova will monitor a patient’s progress through periodic follow-up examinations and imaging tests such as MRIs and CT scans.


What are CyberKnife’s side effects?

Typically, there are no side effects after a CyberKnife treatment and patients return to normal activities immediately. However, some patients may experience rare side effects including nausea and dizziness, which usually can be prevented with medications taken before or after treatment. Those symptoms should pass within a few hours of treatment.


How long have oncologists been using CyberKnife?

While doctors have used radiosurgery since the 1950s, the CyberKnife was invented in 1987 by John R. Adler, M.D., a Stanford University Medical Center professor of neurosurgery and stereotactic radiosurgery. It was approved for treatment of targets in the head in 1999 and in the rest of the body in 2001. Our radiation oncologist has been using the CyberKnife to treat patients since 2004.


What are the benefits of CyberKnife treatment?

The greatest benefits of CyberKnife treatment involve patient health and quality of life. For patients who are good candidates for treatment, it requires fewer treatments and has little to no side effects. Other benefits of CyberKnife include:

  • No incisions
  • No pain
  • No anesthesia
  • Little or no recovery time
  • Outpatient procedure
  • Instant return to daily activities.

What is CyberKnife used for?

CyberKnife, a non-invasive alternative to surgery, is typically used to treat cancerous or noncancerous tumors that haven’t spread into the bloodstream and are dectable via imaging techniques. This may include cancers of the brain, spine, skeleton, lung, prostate, liver, kidney and pancreas. It can also be an effective treatment in conjunction or after other forms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.

Since diagnosis and treatment options vary based on individuals, the best way to know if CyberKnife is right for you is to discuss your situation with our oncologist. Request an Appointment

Can I undergo CyberKnife treatment if I’ve had other cancer treatment before?

Yes, CyberKnife is safe and may be an effective option for patients who have gone through previous types of treatment or are currently undergoing other cancer treatments. Learn More About Recurrent Cancer Treatment

Our radiation oncologist is assisting in pioneering efforts using CyberKnife SBRT for the treatment of recurrent prostate cancer after surgery and other types of radiation therapy.


Are there any risks to CyberKnife treatment?

Though CyberKnife treatment is extremely precise, there are some risks of tissue damage around the treatment area. However, compared with other types of radiation therapy, these risks from CyberKnife treatment are much lower.


Is CyberKnife the best cancer treatment option for me?

Anova Cancer Care treats patients, not just their cancer. Our radiation oncologist will work with patients to determine if CyberKnife is right for them and to provide individual recommendations for their care.

Not all cancers are right for CyberKnife treatment and they must be visible via imaging in order to properly map and treat tumors. Anova uses leading-edge imaging to tailor treatments to each patients’ tumor(s), considering size, shape and location in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

Call to discuss if CyberKnife is right for you or Request an Appointment