What is CyberKnife?

Revolutionary Cancer Treatment

CyberKnife Is The Most Advanced Radiation Delivery System Available

What is CyberKnife?


cyberknife-in-actionWhile the name by conjure images of scalpels and surgery, the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is an extremely non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body.

What can CyberKnife Treat?

The CyberKnife can treat cancers in the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney. The treatment – which delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy – is offering new hope to patients worldwide.


CyberKnife treats patients in 5 days or less (other technologies can be as long as 9 weeks).


The CyberKnife treatment is not actually a knife and 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.

How Does It Work?

  • The CyberKnife® treatments involve a team approach in which several specialists participate. Prior to the procedure, the patient is 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 process begins. A qualified clinician then uses the CyberKnife software to generate a 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.
  • Once the treatment plan has been developed, the patient is ready to undergo the CyberKnife procedure. After arriving at the CyberKnife Center, patients are comfortably positioned on the treatment table. Then the CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will slowly move around the patient to the various locations from which it will deliver radiation to the tumor.
  • Each treatment session will last between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the type of tumor being treated. If treatment is being delivered in stages, patients will need to return for additional treatments over several days (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.

What are the Advantages of CyberKnife?


Unlike open surgery and alternative treatments, the CyberKnife is primarily an outpatient procedure and takes approximately 30 to 90 minutes per treatment. Most patients receive one to three treatments total. In addition, CyberKnife is also:

  • 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 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?

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 the head, spine, lung, prostate, liver and pancreas. The treatment – which delivers high doses of radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy – offers new hope to patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for a non-surgical option. More than 150,000 patients have been treated and more than 220 CyberKnife® systems are installed worldwide.

CyberKnife can treat the following Intracranial (head and brain) Tumors And Lesions:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Gangliocytoma
  • Germinoma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Glioma
  • Glomus jugulare tumor

  • Hemangioblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Neurocytoma
  • Neurofibroma
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • PNET
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Schwannoma
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Vestibular schwannoma

CyberKnife Can Treat The Following Extracranial (outside of the brain) Tumors and Lesions:

  • Sarcoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • Colon Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer

Why 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. As a result, patients do not need to hold their breath during treatment and can just breathe normally and relax comfortably. This capability sets the CyberKnife System far ahead of other similar systems.


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.


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.

CyberKnife vs Gamma Knife?

Often times, we are asked about how the CyberKnife is different from the Gamma Knife. Both the CyberKnife and Gamma Knife are the most widely used stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) devices and despite the name, SRS is actually a “knifeless” surgery. While the Gamma Knife treats with multiple beams simultaneously, the CyberKnife uses a single high-energy photon beam fixed to a robot arm. The arm directs the beam to different positions during the course of treatment, all converging in the treatment target.

CyberKnife Is Non-Invasive

Unlike the Gamma Knife, a head frame is NOT required for sub-millimeter accuracy. Instead, the patient’s head is stabilized and immobilized with a firm plastic mask, and the robot is guided by a series of X-ray images of the skull taken during treatment. The position of the skull is updated in real-time, and the robot adjusts the beam to account for any skull movement. Thus, the CyberKnife SRS for cranial lesions is non-invasive.

CyberKnife Can Divide the Treatment into Several Fractions

Because the CyberKnife does not require rigid immobilization in a frame, it is capable of breaking up the full radiosurgical treatment dose into several fractions and delivering it on several consecutive days. Doing so can help to preserve sensitive normal tissues from radiation injury. It is particularly an advantage when the treatment targets in the brain are in close proximity to sensitive structures such as the optic nerves and the brainstem. In addition, breaking up the treatment into several fractions often allows us to treat larger and more complex lesions on the Cyberknife, which otherwise could not be treated with the Gamma Knife.

CyberKnife Can Treat Extracranial Lesions

Another difference between the CyberKnife and the Gamma Knife is that the CyberKnife, unlike the Gamma Knife is capable of treating lesions outside of the head. Extracranial radiosurgery has enormous potential as a standard treatment option. Data have demonstrated promising results for certain tumors of the liver, lung, and spine, and for radiation-resistant histologies. CyberKnife technology is especially useful in treating tumors that move with respiration, such as lung and liver lesions, with sub-millimeter precision.