Cyberknife – Cancer Treatment

Introduction – Cyberknife

Cyberknife treatment is a latest advance in the cancer therapy. It is a revolutionary approach in the field of stereotactic radio surgery for the treatment of various types of cancers. Cyberknife is an outpatient and non-invasive procedure which is used to destroy the tumors in body by radiation. The side effects and other risks of surgical procedure are overcome in this new method. This therapy can be used in any part of the body.

Cyberknife and other stereotactic radiosurgery systems:

This therapy uses a linear accelerator and image guidance similar to other stereotactic radio surgery systems. But there are some differences like:

  1. In this system, the image guidance is modified throughout the treatment delivery according to the small changes in patient or tumor position. This is particularly true for tumors moving with breathing.
  2. The use of robotic arm in this system gives flexibility for reaching the areas of body which are unreachable by conventional systems of radio surgery.
  3. The invasive stereotactic frame to locate the tumors in the body need not be used in the cyberknife system. Therefore the trauma to the patient is less.

Conditions treated with cyberknife:

  1. Cancers of the brain
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Spine cancer
  4. Metastatic liver cancer
  5. Pancreatic cancer
  6. Prostate cancer
  7. Benign brain tumors
  8. Metastatic orbital tumors
  9. Orbital lymphomas and inflammations
  10. Trigeminal neuralgia

Before the procedure:

  1. Basic history, physical examination, lab tests and blood work up are done for determining general health of the patient. All investigations for the cancer are done to determine the extent and grade of the tumor.
  2. Mask or body mold is made: a mask or body mold is made to minimize the patient movement during the procedure.
  3. CT scan is done: the surgeon and radio oncologist do a CT scan before the treatment to know the exact size, shape and location of the tumor target along with the location of the surrounding vital structures that require to be avoided.
  4. The cyberknife system uses advanced software to determine the amount, intensity and direction of the radiation beams to be delivered to the target. This is very essential feature of the system that ensures the delivery of sufficient dose of radiation to destroy the tumor without damaging the adjacent normal tissue.
  5. Treatment is planned according to these results.

Cyberknife treatment procedure:

  1. The patient is fitted with a mask made before the procedure for cranial tumors or a body cradle for spinal or non-cranial tumors like lung or pancreas. Then the patient lies on the table.
  2. First, an X-ray of the patient position is taken and it is compared with the information from the CT scan. Accordingly, the position of linear accelerator is adjusted by the robot.
  3. This is repeated about 50 to 100 times at different positions around the patient till the treatment is completed. The robot adjusts in between for compensating the patient position with respect to additional X-ray images taken intermittently.
  4. The cyberknife procedure is painless. It takes about 30 to 60 minutes to deliver the total radiation dose for cranial tumors.
  5. Patient can go home immediately after the procedure. The procedure can be repeated at a separate visit if a particular tumor requires fractionation of radiation therapy.

Cyberknife treatment advantages:

  1. Higher dose of radiation can be used because the targeting of the tumor is very accurate. Higher rate of cure is achieved due to this.
  2. This system can treat inoperable tumors at difficult locations.
  3. Minimizes damage to healthy tissues due to accuracy.
  4.  The system compensates for the patient movements so that accuracy is ensured.
  5. No head frame or skull pins needed.
  6. Avoids complications of anesthesia, surgical infections and post-operative bleeding.
  7. Outpatient mode of treatment
  8. No recovery time is required, so patient can resume normal activities immediately.
  9. Painless procedure.

Follow ups:

Follow-up with MRI is done after 3 to 6 months after the cyberknife treatment to see the effect on the tumor.

Cyberknife risks:

Cyberknife system is non-invasive, so there are lower risks of complications like infections, bleeding, hearing loss and neurological deficits as compared to other treatments modalities.

- Link of interest: Twitter Cyberknife – Cancer Treatment.


This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.


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