Radiation therapy uses focused beams of high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. CyberKnife® is a highly precise, robotic approach to radiation therapy that can destroy tumors that are inoperable or surgically complex.
Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in cancer care. We offer a comprehensive oncology program, including advanced radiation therapy like CyberKnife. Best of all, you’ll appreciate convenient appointment times, a location near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your treatment.
What Is CyberKnife?
CyberKnife, also known as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) or Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), is not surgery. Instead, it is a robotic radiation delivery system that can shrink or destroy lesions or tumors. It uses a robot to deliver a maximum dose of radiation directly to a defined area from many different angles with a high degree of precision. The radiation is delivered via a robotic arm that bends and moves around the patient. A special computer synchronizes the movement of the arm while tracking patient movement (like breathing or muscle movement) and tumor position. This allows the radiation to lock onto the tumor and minimizes radiation exposure to healthy organs and tissue.
Because larger, focused doses of radiation can be provided, the number of treatments needed for CyberKnife is between one and five. The treatment time is usually 20 to 60.
What Can CyberKnife Accomplish?
CyberKnife radiation therapy is used to treat tumors throughout the body, including the head, neck, spine, lung, prostate, liver and pancreas. It may be recommended to treat many small tumors, or tumors that are inoperable or very complex. CyberKnife can also be used to treat some non-cancerous lesions. Benefits include:
- Shrinkage or destruction of tumors
- Delivery of targeted radiation, sparing surrounding tissue from radiation damage
- Shorter number of treatment days, helping people return to normal, everyday activities faster
What Can I Expect During the Procedure?
Prior to your first CyberKnife treatment, you will have a high-resolution CT scan or MRI done to pinpoint the location, size and shape of the tumor or area to be treated. That information is transferred to the CyberKnife computer.
Some tumors may require marker placement before the radiation procedure. If you need these fiducial markers, you will see your urologist or surgeon to have the markers placed several days before your radiation treatment. You will lie on a treatment table and receive a sedative and local anesthetic, so you remain still and pain-free during the fiducial placement. Through a small injection or incision, the doctor will guide markers to the tumor site, aided by CT or ultrasound imaging. You will only need to have fiducial markers placed once, not with each CyberKnife treatment.
Some tumors won’t require these markers and only require CT image guidance during treatment. Your physician can explain which procedure you will need.
You will likely have your treatment as an outpatient. On the day of your treatment, you will lie comfortably on a padded table. The CyberKnife computer-controlled arm will move slowly around the table, targeting radiation to the tumor from different angles. Your radiation therapist will leave the room but will observe you during the procedure using closed circuit monitors, which will typically take between 30 and 90 minutes. You will have one to five treatment sessions, usually over one to two weeks.
You shouldn’t feel any pain during treatment. If you’re in an uncomfortable position, ask your radiation therapist for help.
CyberKnife radiation therapy is a simple process and requires no recovery time.
CyberKnife Possible Risks
CyberKnife radiation therapy is noninvasive and very safe. Depending on the radiation dose, some side effects can be experienced, including:
- Skin irritation
Next Steps with MyChart
Discover MyChart, a free patient portal that combines your Baptist Health medical records into one location. Schedule appointments, review lab results, financials, and more! If you have questions, give us a call.