CyberKnife Treatment Explained

A technical overview of the CyberKnife system.

Expert CyberKnife Cancer Treatment in Pasadena, CA

At Pasadena CyberKnife, we’re proud to provide some of the most advanced cancer treatment procedures in the world to patients throughout the Pasadena and greater Los Angeles, CA area. Our world-class cancer treatment facility is equipped with one of the most advanced cancer-fighting technologies, the revolutionary CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System. CyberKnife combines some of the most advanced medical technologies in the world to create a non-surgical, non-invasive, highly effective cancer treatment for virtually every form of cancer. To understand what makes CyberKnife so effective and different from other forms of treatment, we need to understand the technology that goes into the CyberKnife system.

Background of SRS & SBRT

SRS (Sterotactic Radiosurgery) = Single Fraction Radiosurgery (typically to the Brain, Head & Neck)

SBRT (Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy) = 1 to 5 Fractions of Radiosurgery (typically to the body)

Historically, completely eradicating cancerous tumors has been difficult or impossible with radiation therapy (RT) techniques alone. This has to do with the possible maximum dose that a given treatment can use. Generally, a higher dose of radiation is more likely to kill cancerous cells and destroy the tumor, while a lower dose is less likely to kill the tumor. Accordingly, the higher the dose delivered in radiation therapy, the more effective the treatment will be.

The problem is that radiation is lethal to both cancerous AND noncancerous cells. In previous treatment systems, this effectively placed a cap on the amount of radiation that could be delivered, as the available technology limited the accuracy with which radiation could be targeted. To minimize collateral damage to surrounding tissues, radiation oncologists of the past would need to deliver low doses of radiation over the course of many sessions and several weeks (often 25-45 days). Between sessions, healthy cells could heal better than cancerous cells, and the hope was that more tumor cells would die than normal tissue cells. Unfortunately, this strategy results in a low success rate.

What Makes CyberKnife Different

With SRS and SBRT through the CyberKnife system, however, we’re able to deliver lethal (surgical) doses of radiation to tumors with sub-millimeter accuracy. This increased precision and accuracy lets us maximize the dose of radiation delivered during the treatment, drastically improving the efficacy of the treatment without putting surrounding tissues at major risk for damage. Multiple clinical studies comparing clinical treatment volume (CTV) to planning treatment volume (PTV) have confirmed this increased dosage and precision, allowing CyberKnife to deliver a cancer-killing dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the impact on healthy tissue. CyberKnife shortens patient recovery time and decreases complication rates.

Advances in Motion-Tracking Technology

Recent technological advances have enabled physicians to apply SRS & SBRT to tumors in the body as well as in the cranium, head, and neck. This is significant because, in the past, these procedures required a frame, which can easily be attached to the skull. Attempts to develop body frames were cumbersome and unsuccessful. As a result, initially, no technological solution was available to accurately deliver lethal doses of radiation to tumors below the head without also destroying normal tissue.

What makes CyberKnife a revolutionary system is that thanks to the Synchrony Respiratory Tracking System, CyberKnife can track and compensate for the movement of a tumor in real time. This eliminates the need for a frame, allowing CyberKnife to deliver lethal radiation doses to a tumor without damaging surrounding tissues even as the tumor moves due to breathing and other involuntary bodily functions. Using either anatomical markings or small gold fiducials placed in the tumor, we can track tumor movement and deliver radiation with sub-millimeter accuracy despite the movement of the tumor. This is a qualitative change in the radiation treatment we’re capable of performing.

A Proven Track Record of Efficacy

Over the last several years, SRS & SBRT has proven effective in treating cranial, extracranial/neck, and body tumors. In many cases, SRS & SBRT provides a clinically superior alternative to either surgery or traditional radiation therapy for head and body lesions – and in some cases, SRS & SBRT is the only effective option. The SRS & SBRT approach allows for dose escalation, hypofractionation, heterogeneity of dosage within the tumor volume, and improved conformality and accuracy. As a result, SRS & SBRT delivers unique benefits to patients including improved tumor response, higher cure rates, improved pain control, success against tumors that had been radio-resistant or had exceeded tolerance levels, reduction in organ damage, and improved tolerance. These unique benefits apply to tumors regardless of their location in the head, neck, or body. Truly, CyberKnife represents the current gold standard in radiation therapy for cancer treatment, giving us an effective, comfortable, and convenient way to treat even the most difficult cancerous tumors.

Contact Your Pasadena, CA CyberKnife Experts

Whether you’re an interested physician who wants to learn more about the revolutionary CyberKnife system or a patient wanting to explore your options for cancer treatment, the team at Pasadena CyberKnife would be thrilled to hear from you. As a premier radiation therapy cancer treatment center serving the Pasadena area, we are experts in CyberKnife treatment and radiation oncology in general. Feel free to call us at 626.768.1021 with any questions, or you may reach out to us at our contact page to schedule a visit or appointment to our Pasadena facility. We look forward to hearing from you, and we’re excited to help you learn more about the incredible CyberKnife system!