What is CyberKnife Therapy?

Posted on December 1, 2023 in Radiation Therapy

The CyberKnife Radiation Therapy System is an innovative cancer treatment technology designed to perform non-invasive radiosurgery on both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors located anywhere in the body.

The CyberKnife System works by delivering beams of high-dose radiation to tumor cells, destroying the cells and preventing them from repairing themselves or reproducing while preserving healthy tissue in the areas surrounding tumors.

SERO no longer offers CyberKnife treatment due to further advancements in technology that have allowed our physicians to better treat patients without the maintenance required of CyberKnife machines. However, we are always committed to providing the highest quality service and Cancer treatment for our Charlotte patients, which includes education on the available treatment options, including CyberKnife therapy.

What Can Be Treated with CyberKnife Radiation?

CyberKnife may be used to treat both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body. It is most commonly used as an alternative to traditional surgery for patients with inoperable tumors or in cases in which surgery would be too complex or dangerous to perform.

Doctors have also recommended the use of CyberKnife radiation in place of conventional radiation therapy in some cases. Due to the system’s extreme targeting accuracy, CyberKnife therapy at one point was touted as being able to deliver a shorter, more effective course of treatment compared to External Beam Radiation Therapy. With advances in more common technologies, this may no longer be the case.

Common CyberKnife treatment areas include:

A Proven Tool in Combating Tumors

With the introduction of CyberKnife Radiation technology in the 1990s, the world of radiation oncology gained an innovative tool with exceptional capabilities. After several advances over the past two decades, CyberKnife remains unique among radiation technology in its accuracy and effectiveness and continues to provide a viable alternative to traditional surgery.

Real-Time Image Guidance and Pinpoint Accuracy

The CyberKnife System works by combining advanced robotics with real-time imaging. The robotics are used to deliver beams of radiation—a general-purpose robotic arm which is controlled by a computer, is programmed using data from CT scans of the patient to target certain spots. Then, while the arm is delivering the radiation treatment, the system is also taking X-rays of the patient, which are fed directly into the computer system that controls the arm. By feeding 3-D images of the patient into the computer in real-time, the arm can adjust its positioning very quickly. The range of motion of the robotic arm and the real-time image guidance allows for the highly accurate delivery of radiotherapy anywhere in the body.

Comfort and Freedom

These important characteristics also make the system much more comfortable for the patient. Many SRS technologies, particularly those used to deliver treatment to tumors in the brain, in the past have required the patient to be rigidly immobilized during treatment. In many cases, this is achieved by a tight framing that is fastened to the patient’s head with titanium screws.

CyberKnife treatment capitalizes on the free range of motion provided by its robotic arm and the real-time image updates to deliver radiation from multiple angles and gives the patient much more latitude to rest comfortably during treatment.

What to Expect During Treatment

Though SERO does not offer CyberKnife treatment, other physicians may recommend this course of action. In these cases, we want you to feel prepared for the treatment you will undergo.

Imaging and Planning

Imaging technicians use a high-resolution CT scan to pinpoint the size and shape of tumors and their precise location inside the body.

The images taken by the CT machine are transferred electronically to the CyberKnife guidance computer, and clinicians begin planning treatments based on the specifics of the patient’s condition.

Your doctor will then use the CyberKnife software to create a treatment plan that is carefully designed to target tumors with the proper doses of radiation while minimizing radiation exposure to healthy cells.

Undergoing the Procedure

Once your doctor has developed cancer treatment plans, the patient is ready to undergo the CyberKnife procedure.

Upon arrival, patients will be positioned on the treatment table. The CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robotic arm then moves around the patient at various angles, delivering radiation therapy to the tumor locations.

Treatment sessions with the Cyberknife System last between 30 and 90 minutes. Session time depends on the type and location of the tumor. In many cases, patients will be treated in stages over several sessions, although there are typically no more than five days of treatment.

After Treatment

After receiving a full course of Cyberknife Radiation Treatment, patients will return for a follow-up visit to monitor progress and treat side effects.

Side effects tend to be minimal or non-existent for most patients. Depending on the treatment site, some patients may experience mild nausea or fatigue. Side effects that manifest in the patient will normally go away within the first ten days after treatment.

SERO’s CyberKnife Treatment Availability

While SERO no longer offers CyberKnife treatment, SBRT and SRS can be performed utilizing many different treatment platforms at many of our centers.  SERO offers expertise in all of these systems including Novalis Brainlab, Varian TruBeam, and Elekta Synergy. Our commitment to providing accurate and comprehensive information about all radiation oncology treatment options including CyberKnife, remains as relevant as ever.

Learn more about other types of stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SRS/SRBT) provided by SERO.

We encourage patients to research and explore the other innovative treatment options provided by SERO, and always discuss various possibilities with their physician. If you have any questions about alternatives to CyberKnife in treating your cancer, call (704) 380-0730 today or schedule a consultation.