FAQ's About CyberKnife Radiation Therapy

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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 brain, head, spine, lung, prostate, liver pancreas, kidney and more. The treatment – which delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with sub-millimeter 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, nonsurgical option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for an alternative to surgery.

*Cyberknife robotic treatments are covered by Medicare and most all insurances for treatments throughout the body.

What are the benefits of choosing CyberKnife?

Unlike open surgery and alternative treatments, the CyberKnife is primarily an outpatient procedure and takes approximately 20 to 90 minutes per treatment.   Patients receive one to five treatments total, whereas conventional radiation is delivered over a course of 7 to 9 weeks.

Patient Benefits:

  • Painless
  • Sedation Free
  • No incisions or blood loss
  • No recovery time – patient can go home the same day
  • Lower risk and fewer complications than open surgery

Additional Advantages:

  • The radiation dose to organs at risk is minimal, even those that are immediately adjacent to the lesion.
  • Staged/fractionated radiosurgery for intracranial and head lesions is now possible with CyberKnife
  • No head or body frame is required because patient movement is detected and compensated by adaptive beam pointing
  • Since no head or body frames are required, CyberKnife treatments can be performed in one to five fractions. This enables the administration of an effective dose of radiation to a lesion while mitigating the injurious effects to critical structures/organs at risk.

CyberKnife has revolutionized the patient’s quality of life:

  • Instead of coming in for treatment every day for six to eight weeks, CyberKnife patients only have to come in for one to five days. This shorter treatment course is more convenient and less stressful for patients and their families.
  • Since neither incisions nor general anesthesia is required in a CyberKnife procedure, the risk of complications, and therefore recovery time, is dramatically reduced or totally eliminated after a CyberKnife treatment. Patients can even return to work on the same day they had a treatment.

What can be treated with CyberKnife?

The CyberKnife System is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body including:

  • Brain
  • Head and Neck
  • Spine
  • Lung
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas
  • Prostate
  • Recurrent Tumors

*Cyberknife treatments are covered by Medicare and most all insurances for treatments throughout the body.

What makes CyberKnife unique?

What Makes CyberKnife Unique?

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.

The challenge with the gantry designed, ordinary conventional radiation, Proton and Gamma Knife systems, is that it is virtually impossible to prevent patients and their internal anatomy from moving during radiation treatments without subjecting them to invasive and uncomfortable methods to minimize their movement as much as possible:

  • 1. For Brain, Head and Neck treatments, these immobilization techniques can include attaching a metal frame directly into a patient’s skull.
  • 2. For treatments to the body including the lung, liver, pancreas and kidney, compression of the abdomen, stabilizing body casts or patient breath holds, are used to limit breathing and movement. (photo)
  • 3. For treatments to the prostate an injection of rectal balloons or hardening agents into the rectum are utilized to hold the prostate in place.

What can I expect during my visits?

Pasadena CyberKnife is here to help. We understand the CyberKnife treatment system is new to most people. We want you to have a full understanding of the technology and the process and know that you are in good hands with our excellent staff.

First Steps

CyberKnife treatments involve a team approach in which several specialists participate. Prior to the procedure, you will be imaged using a high-resolution CT scan, to determine the size, shape and location of the tumor. Following scanning, the image data is digitally transferred to the CyberKnife System’s workstation, where the treatment planning begins.

Determining Your Treatment

Our radiation oncologist and medical physicist work together, often with a collaborating surgeon, to create the treatment plan. The plan is used to match the desired radiation dose to the identified tumor location while limiting radiation exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Delivering Your Treatment

Once the treatment plan has been developed, the patient is comfortably positioned on the treatment table. The CyberKnife will slowly move around the patient to deliver the radiation to the tumor.

Time Schedule

Each treatment session will typically last between 20 and 90 minutes, depending on the type of tumor being treated. Treatment are normally delivered in stages (typically no more than five), as determined by the patients doctor. Patients may experience some minimal side effects, but those often go away within the first week or two after treatment.