Pasadena CyberKnife Blog

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CyberKnife for Sarcoma

Today, we would like to share with you a very unique case study – Sarcoma.  Sarcoma is a cancer that develops from soft tissue or bone, whereas carcinoma – the most common type of cancer – develops from the cells that cover the inner or outer surfaces of the body.  Sarcomas are quite rare as there are only approximately 15,000 new cases per year in the U.S.

This case study features a 68-year-old man with a history of nasopharyngeal cancer named Mr. Wu.  He had been cancer-free since he received radiation therapy in Taiwan in 1991.  In early 2010, he was found to have a recurrent mass in the nasal cavity, and the biopsy results confirmed a diagnosis of Sarcoma.  This newly diagnosed sarcoma is different from his original nasopharyngeal carcinoma.  It is probably a new tumor caused by his previous radiation treatment (we call it a “radiation-induced sarcoma”).  Radiation-induced sarcoma is rare and it usually takes 15-20 years for the secondary tumor to develop.

Mr. Wu’s new sarcoma had grown since last year and was causing profuse nose bleeding and hearing loss in both ears.  He decided to seek medical care from the world-renowned University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where our Medical Director, Dr. Albert Mak, completed his residency training.  Mr. Wu had an MRI upon arrival at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  The results showed a large tumor in the nasopharynx and nasal cavity measuring about 3 inches.  In addition, the tumor was reaching the bone of the skull.  Based on the results, the physician recommended chemotherapy which Mr. Wu refused due to personal reasons.

Fortunately, Mr. Wu’s daughter, who had learned of our center, suggested he contact our center for second opinion.  While still in Houston, Mr. Wu emailed us his clinical notes and MRI reports.  After reviewing his records, Dr. Mak believed that the CyberKnife treatment could help him.  Mr. Wu flew to Los Angeles the next day to see Dr. Mak because the CyberKnife treatment is not currently available at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  Further examination and consultation at our center confirmed that Mr. Wu was indeed a perfect candidate for CyberKnife.

Treatment and Result:

We treated Mr. Wu with CyberKnife for 5 days from 01/26/11 to 02/04/11.  He tolerated the treatment very well.  When he was seen two weeks later, he reported that his nose bleeding had stopped and he could breathe much better.  He had another MRI on 03/18/11, and the results revealed a complete disappearance of the tumor.  PET/CT done 3 months after treatment continued to show no evidence of disease.


Sarcoma has been known to be resistant to conventional radiation.  On the other hand, CyberKnife is effective in treating sarcoma because it can deliver a very high dose of radiation at the target without causing complication or side effects.  Furthermore, the treatment is very precise and painless. The entire course of treatment only takes 5 days and is done on an outpatient basis. Patients can return to their normal activity right after treatment as there is no recovery time required.

If you have questions regarding CyberKnife for sarcoma, please feel free to contact our center.