Spine Tumor & Cancer Treatment

Discover your options for treating Spine tumors with CyberKnife.

Learn More About Spinal Cancer, CyberKnife and Contact Us for a Consultation

The CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery system offered by the Pasadena CyberKnife Center in Los Angeles can treat tumors anywhere in the body non-invasively, and without spinal cancer surgery.

At Pasadena CyberKnife Center, our cancer doctors are experts in treating spinal tumor cancer, as well as a wide variety of other types of cancer. No matter what you are facing, our cancer center team at Pasadena CyberKnife Center will help you through every stage of your treatment.

There is a lot to learn about the type of cancer you have and the treatment options. We want to make sure that you are completely informed about your cancer and the CyberKnife treatment. After reading the information below, contact us to set up a consultation with our cancer doctor to see if CyberKnife is the right treatment for you.

Choose the CyberKnife System for Spine Cancer Treatment in Los Angeles

cyberknife-spineThere are several reasons why CyberKnife is the preferred treatment option for those suffering from spinal tumors in Los Angeles:

  • Delivers extremely accurate, pinpoint precise radiation
  • No surgery, no needles, no pain
  • Minimized to no side effects
  • Only requires one to five sessions
  • No body frames or implanted guidance markers
  • Painless and free from significant side effects
  • No anesthesia or hospital stay
  • Targets tumors from virtually any angle
  • Treats cancerous and non-cancerous spine tumors
  • Quicker recovery time

What to Expect at Our Center for Spinal Cancer Treatment

CyberKnife spine cancer treatment is the evolution of radiation therapy technology and is setting the standard for the treatment of spinal tumors. CyberKnife provides cancer treatment where other options may be impractical or inadequate. The location of spinal tumors can be near the lungs or neck, where there is constant bodily movement. CyberKnife has pinpoint accuracy and the ability to target tumors from virtually any angle, with its unique robotic design, and exclusive image guidance and tumor-tracking software. Other conventional therapies are more limited and may be unable to treat some spinal tumors that may be difficult to target or are inaccessible with older treatment technology.

Patients who choose CyberKnife are usually fitted with a comfortable body cradle and placed on the treatment couch. Digital imaging guidance systems help to locate the spinal tumor, and the robotic arm delivering the radiation automatically adjusts to the location and movement of the tumor, which can then be targeted from multiple angles.

CyberKnife Advantages Over Other Radiation Therapies

CyberKnife represents the most advanced technology in spine cancer treatment. CyberKnife treats with accurate precision, with reduced side effects, and treatments are conducted in five sessions or less. CyberKnife is the only treatment that tracks the real-time movement of the tumor and delivers radiation only to the exact location of the tumor. Other standard treatment options are unable to track and automatically correct for tumor movement and cause potential damage to the healthy tissues around the tumor, which leads to more side effects.

Because CyberKnife accurately targets only the tumor, it can use a higher dose of radiation to effectively treat the tumor in one to five sessions, unlike conventional radiotherapy that can take five to eight weeks. This decrease in damage to healthy tissue and fewer treatment sessions means CyberKnife patients are free from the significant side effects associated with conventional radiation therapy and can recover quicker.

CyberKnife – Spine Cancer Treatment Overview

cyberknife-spineThe CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001 to treat tumors anywhere in the body, including the spine.

Despite its name, the CyberKnife System is not a surgical procedure. In fact, there is no cutting, anesthesia, or needles involved. Instead, the CyberKnife System delivers high doses of pinpoint, sub-millimeter radiation directly to spine tumors, sparing healthy tissues around the tumor.

The CyberKnife System offers patients a minimally invasive alternative treatment for spine cancer for those who cannot undergo spine cancer surgery, those who refuse surgery, or for recurrent tumors that have already had radiation.

Pasadena CyberKnife spine cancer treatments are performed on an outpatient basis over one to five days, requiring no overnight hospital stays. Most patients experience minimal to no side effects with a quick recovery time.

CyberKnife & Spine Tumors:

How does Cyberknife System Treat Spinal Tumors?

How Does the CyberKnife System Treat Spinal Tumors?

The CyberKnife Dedicated Robotic Radiosurgery System offers patients the latest and most advanced option for spine cancer treatment. Unlike regular conventional radiation therapy, during which low doses of radiation are delivered over 7 to 10 weeks, the CyberKnife System can treat a tumor in 1 to 5 days by delivering a high dose of radiation with sub-millimeter accuracy, sparing healthy tissue. The Cyberknife accuracy matches that of surgery, with surgical outcomes, yet without cutting, needles or anesthesia, hence Radiosurgery.

Spine tumors present a treatment challenge because they move as the patient breathes. Conventional radiation therapy cannot account for this movement, so the surrounding healthy tissue is damaged by the radiation. The CyberKnife System is able to achieve surgical accuracy – within a millimeter – completely non-invasively – without the use of body frames or implanted fiducial markers. It can pinpoint a tumor’s exact location in real-time throughout treatment. In addition, the unique design of the Cyberknife robot can approach a tumor from virtually any angle, something that conventional, gantry designed technologies, cannot do.

The CyberKnife System allows the patient to breathe normally while on the treatment table, enabling the doctor to zero in on the moving tumor and focus hundreds of radiation beams from different angles, all of which intersect at the tumor. Using this method, the CyberKnife System is able to deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor while avoiding damage to the surrounding sensitive spinal cord tissue and other critical structures. As a result, radiation is delivered more accurately, and treatments can be performed in a shorter period of time (1 to 5 days vs. 25 to 45 days on other systems).

CyberKnife Treatment Process: Spinal Tumors

CyberKnife treatments involve a team approach, in which several specialists participate:

  • Neurosurgeon
  • Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Medical Physicist
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Clinical Care Nurse Patient Coordinator

Once the team is in place, preparation for the CyberKnife treatment will begin. Generally, there are three steps involved:

  • 1. Set up and imaging
  • 2. Treatment planning
  • 3. CyberKnife treatment

During set-up and imaging, the patient may be fitted for a custom body cradle, which is designed to help keep the patient more comfortable and ensures he or she is in the same position for both imaging and treatment.

If the tumor is in the upper cervical region, the patient also may be custom-fitted with a mesh face mask. Both the cradle and face mask are painless and completely non-invasive.

While laying in the body cradle and/or wearing the face mask, the patient will undergo a computed tomography (CT) scan. This scan data will be used by the CyberKnife team to determine the exact size, shape, and location of the tumor. A magnetic resonance image (MRI) or some other type of imaging study also may be needed to fully visualize the tumor and nearby anatomy. Once the imaging is done, the body cradle or face mask will be stored for use during treatment.

Treatment planning is then performed by a medical physicist in conjunction with the treatment team. The patient will not need to be present at this time. During treatment planning, all CT, MRI, and other scan data will be downloaded into the CyberKnife System’s treatment planning software to develop a customized treatment plan. The medical team will determine the size of the area being targeted by radiation and the dosage, as well as identifying critical structures – such as the spine or vital organs – where radiation should be minimized. The CyberKnife System calculates the optimal radiation delivery plan to treat the tumor. The treatment plan will take full advantage of the CyberKnife System’s maneuverability, allowing for extremely accurate delivery of radiation.

After the plan is developed, the patient will return to the CyberKnife center for treatment. The doctors may choose to deliver the treatment in one session, or stage it over several days. Typically, treatments are completed in one to five days.

For most patients, the CyberKnife treatment is a completely pain-free experience. Patients dress comfortably in their own clothes, and, depending on the treatment center, they may be allowed to bring music to listen to during the treatment. Patients also may want to bring something to read while they wait, and have a friend or family member with them to provide support before and after treatment.

If lying on one’s back is painful, the doctor may instruct the patient to take pain medication prior to the CyberKnife treatment in order to minimize any discomfort.

After arriving at the CyberKnife center, the patient will be escorted into the treatment room, placed in the body cradle and/or face mask, and then positioned on the treatment couch. The patient will be monitored through closed-circuit television and be able to communicate with the treatment team at all times.

When treatment begins, the CyberKnife System will use X-rays to place the patient into the proper position and pinpoint the location of the patient’s tumor. The CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will move the radiation source to multiple locations around the patient as they lie still on the table. Throughout the treatment, more digital images of the spine will be captured by the image guidance system to verify the tumor location. If the patient moves slightly, the change is detected by the imaging system, which automatically adjusts the robotic arm before delivering the radiation. By adjusting in this manner, the radiation beam can accurately target the tumor throughout the entire treatment process and minimize damage to healthy tissue.

Nothing will be required of the patient during the treatment, except to relax and lie as still as possible. In fact, patients often sleep through the treatment.

There are generally only minimal side effects from CyberKnife treatments. Occasionally patients report mild, temporary nausea, particularly if the lower abdomen is undergoing treatment. Prior to treatment, the doctor will discuss with the patient all possible side effects they may experience. The doctor also may prescribe medication designed to control any side effects should they occur.

After completing the CyberKnife treatment, patients should schedule and attend all follow-up appointments. Patients must keep in mind that the tumor will not suddenly disappear. In fact, it could take several months, or longer, to determine the effectiveness of the CyberKnife treatment. Response to treatment varies from patient to patient. Clinical experience has shown that most patients respond very well to CyberKnife treatments. By routinely evaluating the symptoms and undergoing post-operative MRIs, the doctor can chart the patient’s post-treatment progress.

Learn more about Spine Tumors

What is Spine Cancer?

What is Cancer of the Spine?

Spine cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in or around the spinal cord resulting in a tumor. If the abnormal cells originated from cells in the tissues of the spine, the resulting collection of cells is called a primary spine tumor. If the abnormal cells originated in another part of the body, such as the lung or breast, and were carried to the spine by the blood or other bodily fluid, then it is considered a metastatic spine tumor. More than 18,000 cases of primary spine tumors and more than 162,000 spine metastases are diagnosed in the United States each year (1). Spinal metastases can occur in up to 40 percent of cancer patients (2).

Primary Spine Tumors

Primary spine tumors are relatively rare types of tumors that originate in or around the spine itself. They can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Benign tumor types include:

  • Meningiomas
  • Neurofibromas
  • Schwannoma

Malignant tumor types include:

  • Astrocytomas
  • Ependymomas.
  • Metastatic spine tumors

Metastatic tumors can spread to the spine through the bloodstream, along nerves or within the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. These cells most commonly originate from tumors within the lung, breast, skin, and colon, and are deposited in the spine, eventually growing into a tumor or tumors (3).

Both primary and metastatic spine tumors are very dangerous because they can compress the spinal cord and/or destroy the bone and surrounding tissue in the spine. These tumors cause patients to experience pain, gait and posture problems, and other neurological issues. As these tumors grow larger, patients can become paralyzed if the tumor completely cuts the spinal cord.

What are Spine Cancer Symptoms and Detection?

How is Cancer of the Spine Detected?

Spine tumors are usually detected because a patient will have symptoms, such as:

  • Back pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Limb weakness

*Patients often experience pain that either is in the spine itself or radiates from the nerves in the spine.

Because none of these symptoms are unique to spine tumors, the diagnosis must be confirmed through a combination of procedures including:

  • Physical examination
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scans.

Once a spine tumor has been diagnosed, more tests may be needed to identify the specific type of tumor and determine the proper treatment for the patient.

Contact Us to Schedule a Consultation at Our Cancer Center Today

Any cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, but at our oncology center, we are here to support you through your entire treatment process. We’re proud to provide world-class cancer treatments to patients throughout the Pasadena and the greater Los Angeles area. With our state-of-the-art radiation therapy cancer treatments, we are able to treat patients with a wide variety of conditions.

To learn more about CyberKnife, call us today at (626) 768-1021 to schedule a consultation. Our contact page also provides information on our location and hours. Let the cancer experts at Pasadena CyberKnife Center help you beat cancer to reclaim a healthy, happy life.

Learn more about CyberKnife® and Spine Cancer

Spine Tumor Treatment: Cyberknife Patient Education

Cyberknife Benefits Explained By Neurosurgeons

Patient Testimonial: Patsy’s Metastactic Breast Cancer to the Liver and Spine

Patient Testimonial: Rachael’s CyberKnife Treatment – Spinal Chordoma

For more information on CyberKnife’s ability to treat Spine Tumors, check out our Case Studies.