When you choose CyberKnife treatment at MedStar Health, you can rest assured that you're getting one of the most advanced treatments for cancer available—and the nation’s most experienced CyberKnife experts. Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, CyberKnife is actually a painless and non-invasive form of radiation that offers accurate, effective treatment for tumors anywhere in the body—even in places previously considered unreachable. CyberKnife uses a combination of computers, image-guided cameras, and robotic technology to concentrate radiation directly at tumor cells, while limiting radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
How it Works
CyberKnife® is one of the most advanced and effective stereotactic radiosurgery technologies, which is a method of controlling or destroying tumors by aiming beams of radiation at them from multiple directions. Multiple X-ray cameras and powerful software pinpoint the exact location of a tumor. A robotic arm then aims high-powered radiation beams directly at the tumor from more than 1,400 different angles. Because the robotic arm has unparalleled flexibility, the beams of radiation can be directed even at difficult-to-reach areas of the body. And, because the beams are so precise, they focus only on the tumor, not on any surrounding healthy tissue.
Synchrony® Respiratory Tracking System
MedStar Health’s CyberKnife system is also coupled with a revolutionary tracking technology called Synchrony. Throughout treatment, even the slightest movement, such as a patient's breathing, will cause tumor movement. By continuously tracking the position of the tumor and correcting for movement in real time, there is minimal radiation spillover to healthy surrounding tissue, including blood vessels, nerves, and vital organs.
See how it works:
The FDA has approved CyberKnife for the treatment of malignant and benign tumors located anywhere in the body. The benefits include
- Targets tumors previously considered unreachable by surgery or conventional radiation.
- Fewer complications and lower risks than surgery or radiation.
- Treatment typically completed with less pain than traditional treatments in one to five sessions (traditional radiation treatments may require as many as 40 sessions).
- Does not require anesthesia, incisions, blood loss, or recovery time.
- Other similar techniques require patients to wear uncomfortable frames during the procedure—CyberKnife uses the body's bony structures or implanted markers to find its target.
- Outpatient procedure—patients usually go home the same day.
- Other techniques require patients to hold their breath during treatment—CyberKnife uses the Synchrony Respiratory Tracking System to follow tumor movement even while you breathe.
- Radiation beamed on the tumor from more than 1,400 different angles, allowing concentrated radiation on the tumor itself and avoiding surrounding, healthy tissue.
A team of physician specialists and radiologists offer every patient we see the most thorough evaluations, accurate diagnoses, comprehensive treatments, and advanced technologies available. While, MedStar Health specialists customize CyberKnife treatment for each patient, the general process is as follows
- Initial consultation: During your consultation, the procedure and its risks and benefits will be explained in detail. If treatment is planned for any area of the body other than the head, it may be necessary to implant small metal markers, called fiducials, into the tumor-bearing region.
- Fiducial placement: Fiducials are small (1 mm in diameter, approximately 5 mm long), cylindrical markers implanted into soft tissues in or near the tumor (lesion) for the purpose of accurately guiding the CyberKnife radiation beams. Markers are typically required for tumors in the chest, abdomen, pelvis, or other soft tissue that move with respiration, and are not required for tumors in the head or spine. If your treatment requires the placement of fiducial markers, the procedure will be done by a physician or surgeon and will be scheduled for you by the CyberKnife team.
- CT scan: Your MedStar medical team will use a CT scan to identify the exact size, shape, and location of the tumor and the healthy surrounding tissues to avoid. In some cases, additional radiology studies such as an MRI scan or a PET scan will be used to plan your treatment. Extra scans are fused with the planning CT scan to provide the most detailed, three-dimensional map possible of the area to be treated. (Prior to this step, a light plastic mask—used for brain, head or neck tumors—or a comfortable foam body-immobilizing system—for tumors in the abdomen and pelvis—is made to help minimize patient movement during treatment. This is a simple and painless process.)
- Tumor mapping: Once CT studies are complete, your MedStar CyberKnife team will review them in great detail and plan your treatment. Planning considerations include tumor proximity to surrounding organs and structures, as well as tumor location, which influences the direction and number of radiation beams.
- Treatment: CyberKnife treatment may be given one to five times, depending on individual needs.
- Side effects: Possible side effects vary, and will be discussed during your consultation. Fatigue may occur a few days after treatment, and generally improves within two to three weeks. With treatment to the lung, a sore throat may occur, which usually goes away in four to five days. With treatments to the abdomen or pelvis, some patients may experience nausea or diarrhea; if needed, your doctor will prescribe medication to help.
- Follow-up: Follow-up visits are scheduled after treatment is complete. Your team will perform follow-up imaging to monitor the tumor's treatment response. You'll meet with doctors to discuss these image results and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Types of Cancer Treated
CyberKnife is an effective and accurate method of destroying or killing cancer cells using radiation. It is an excellent alternative for patients who cannot or do not want to undergo surgery and for patients who have tumors in very sensitive or hard-to-reach places. MedStar Health uses CyberKnife technology to treat the following cancers:
- Brain and Spinal Cancer
- Skull Base Cancer
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Head and Neck Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Metastatic Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
For a physician referral, please call:
Cyberknife is available at:
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237