CyberKnife Vs. Gamma Knife
For those looking for alternatives to surgery for brain tumor treatment, the primary treatments considered are CyberKnife and Gamma Knife. Both are effective treatment options for those with inoperable or recurrent tumors, or who do not want to endure the risks of surgery. When the time comes for you to decide how to treat your brain tumor, it is important to consider the differences between Gamma Knife and CyberKnife.
Comparing CyberKnife to Gamma Knife
Both CyberKnife and Gamma Knife are dedicated stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) treatment technologies, but Gamma Knife is limited to only treating cancer above the ear and in the cervical spine. However, CyberKnife is the only dedicated SRS and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) system capable of treating cancer throughout the entire body.
Both CyberKnife and Gamma Knife are primary treatments for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. They are also effective treatments for vascular lesions and functional disorders, such as Trigeminal Neuralgia and AVM. The commonality between the two treatments lies in the fact that both aim to eliminate tumors and to achieve an outcome similar to surgery. However, while both are highly targeted therapies, there are crucial differences between CyberKnife and Gamma Knife.
- The principle difference between Gamma Knife and CyberKnife is that Gamma Knife requires a large metal frame be mounted onto the patient’s head with screws before and during treatment. CyberKnife is a non-invasive and pain-free treatment that allows patients to lie comfortably on a treatment couch while the system moves quickly around them.
- CyberKnife patients require no general or local anesthesia during the procedure, unlike Gamma Knife’s.
- CyberKnife is a dedicated robotic system that can approach a tumor in the brain, head, neck, and spine from over 1,300 positions with pinpoint sub-millimeter accuracy. Gamma Knife is a gantry-designed system that is limited to 190 positions.
- Gamma Knife can only target brain or cervical spine cancer with a single treatment of high-dose radiation, while CyberKnife is able to treat cancer anywhere on the body in one to five radiation treatments. Clinical studies have shown that certain tumors and conditions treated with a lower dose of radiation for two to five treatments is better for the surrounding healthy organs and tissues.
- While Gamma Knife has been around since the 1950s and boasts more clinical data, there is a growing body of evidence that shows CyberKnife provides equivalent results for certain tumors and a better outcome for others due to the increased accuracy during treatment as well as not being restricted to one session. Also, the FDA cleared CyberKnife for treatment of tumors throughout the entire body in 2001.
How CyberKnife & Gamma Knife Treatments Work
To understand the differences between CyberKnife and Gamma Knife treatment protocols, one needs to know how both procedures are conducted. While a head frame is required for Gamma Knife, with CyberKnife, an extremely precise monitoring system is used to update the position of the body in real time and this allows the CyberKnife robotics to accurately compensate for normal patient movement. This makes CyberKnife much more patient-friendly as it does away with awkward head frames or any other kind of body movement restrictors.
Because Gamma Knife requires a mounted head frame, imaging, planning, and treatment all must happen that same day. The treatment plan will be devised while the patient waits in the hospital with the mounted head frame in place. Once the plan is complete, the patient is then fixed to a table where they receive a single, powerful dose of radiation.
CyberKnife treatment offers greater flexibility in eliminating cancerous cells. The treatment plan, along with all imaging and scans, is completed days before any actual treatment begins. After the scans, the radiation oncologist and medical physicists will develop a customized plan. Since patients do not require a head frame, CyberKnife can be administered in one to five sessions. Much like Gamma Knife, CyberKnife can treat tumors with a single, high dose of radiation, but that isn’t always the best treatment option. Clinical data shows that for certain cancerous and non-cancerous conditions, fractioned-dose radiation administered over two to five sessions provides better results.
Both CyberKnife and Gamma Knife treatments are similar, as they both use external radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors while avoiding healthy tissue. Gamma Knife unfortunately is limited to only 190 positions in trying to reach the tumor and patients must wear a mounted head frame before and during the treatment. Meanwhile, CyberKnife has pinpoint precision down to the sub-millimeter and can treat the tumor from virtually any angle, pain-free and non-invasively. Thanks to an exclusive real-time, tumor-tracking guidance system CyberKnife also is more equipped to handle tumors that might move slightly due to natural body and organ movement.
Other Advantages of CyberKnife
While both CyberKnife and Gamma Knife precisely treat cancerous, noncancerous, and recurrent tumors, CyberKnife has distinct advantages. Because of the more advanced technology, CyberKnife can treat tumors in organs throughout the body that move with normal breathing by utilizing real-time X-ray images of the targeted location. Gamma Knife is only able to treat cancers in the brain and cervical spine, where movement can be stabilized.
Some special features of CyberKnife treatment include robotic mounting and multiple imaging of the tumor in real time, which means that there is rarely need for implanting guidance markers. Gamma Knife procedures utilize static images that were taken previously in order to find the treatment location, and therefore are not updated in real-time. The specially designed robotic equipment used by CyberKnife helps improve patient positioning and the frameless nature of the treatment also significantly increases clinical efficiency and client comfort.
Contact Us for Advanced Cancer Treatment
If you would like to know more about CyberKnife, the benefits, and the applicability of the treatment method for you, call our center at 626-768-1021. You can also fill out our contact form and our compassionate and knowledgeable staff will be happy to assist you.