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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

How This Strange Looking Machine Cures Tumors?

What is the CyberKnife® System?

The CyberKnife System is a non-invasive treatment for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and other conditions where radiation therapy is indicated. It is used to treat conditions throughout the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, head and neck, liver, pancreas and kidney, and can be an alternative to surgery or for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors. CyberKnife treatments are typically performed in 1 to 5 sessions. The CyberKnife System has more than two decades of clinical proof and has helped thousands of cancer patients.

True robotic delivery precision

The CyberKnife System is the only radiation delivery system which features a linear accelerator (linac) directly mounted on a robot to deliver the high-energy x-rays or photons used in radiation therapy. It uses real-time image guidance and a robot to deliver dose from thousands of beam angles, setting a new standard for delivery precision anywhere in the body and enabling stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) treatments for the full range of indications. The robot moves and bends around the patient, approaching the tumor from thousands of unique angles, significantly expanding the possible positions to concentrate radiation to the tumor while minimizing dose to surrounding healthy tissue.

Treatment types

The CyberKnife System was designed to deliver external-beam radiation therapy:

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)

How CyberKnife Works


cyberknife, Credits: Wikipedia commons

CyberKnife radiosurgery delivers radiation with extreme accuracy. It targets the tumor with minimal exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. Unlike surgery, CyberKnife does not remove tumors or lesions, but delivers a precise dose of radiation that destroys tumor cells and spares surrounding tissue.

CyberKnife is a frameless radiosurgery system consisting of integrated parts. The central component is a lightweight linear accelerator mounted on a robotic arm. The mobility of CyberKnife enables it to treat tumors and lesions from a variety of angles without clinician intervention or treatment interruption.

The radiation beams from CyberKnife adjust in real-time to a patient’s breathing cycle. Many tumors, even when their movement has been restricted, continue to move during treatment delivery. CyberKnife’s advanced robotic technology and ability to track tumor movement throughout the treatment, allows it to deliver radiation with extreme accuracy.

By dramatically reducing the planning margins and accounting for patient movement, CyberKnife minimizes damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Types of Cancer Treated with CyberKnife®

CyberKnife® is commonly used to treat inoperable or complex tumors. 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, including the following:

  1. Brain, Spine, and Skull-Base Tumors

  2. Trigeminal Neuralgia

  3. Head and Neck Cancer

  4. Lung Cancer

  5. Metastatic Cancer

  6. Pancreatic Cancer

  7. Prostate Cancer

Benefits of CyberKnife®


Cyberknife, Credits: Wikipedia commons

Cyberknife treatment offers many benefits over surgery and other forms of radiation, including:

Unrivaled accuracy. CyberKnife treats benign and cancerous tumors from more than 1,400 angles without harming the surrounding healthy tissue and organs.

No hospital stay. CyberKnife therapy is performed as an outpatient procedure so you can return home the same day you receive treatment.

No pain, anesthesia, or recovery time. CyberKnife is not a surgical procedure, so you won’t need to worry about losing blood, caring for incisions, or taking medication.

Faster treatment completion. You will receive one to five treatments over one to two weeks, whereas traditional radiation may require over 40 visits.

Excellent outcomes. Proven results show CyberKnife is as effective at treating most early stage tumors as surgery and is superior to traditional radiation therapy.

How is CyberKnife different from radiation treatment?

Conventional radiation therapy administers a broad beam of low-dose radiation from only a few directions over a longer period of time. This limits how closely the tumor is covered with radiation and also exposes some of the healthy surrounding tissue to radiation.

Since CyberKnife radiosurgery delivers higher-dose, targeted beams (with sub-millimeter accuracy), it limits damage to surrounding tissue and requires fewer treatment sessions. Learn more about CyberKnife, request an appointment online.

How does CyberKnife precisely focus the radiation?

Prior to the therapy, a patient undergoes imaging scans to help our radiation oncologist map the tumor. These scans may include computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET), ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The information from the scans is entered into the CyberKnife system’s computer to create a three-dimensional map of the tumor.

What can a patient expect when undergoing treatment?

During treatment, the patient lies on a table under a robotic device that delivers the radiation. Anova Cancer Care employs specially-trained physicists to oversee computer guidance of the robot, moving it around the patient and focusing precisely on the area of treatment.

Radiation dosage is calculated based on the location, density, size and shape of the targeted tumor. Tiny gold markers are sometimes positioned in or around the tumor to let the CyberKnife determine the real-time position of the tumor within a tenth of a millimeter in the head, and within one millimeter in other areas of the body. This helps incorporate adjustments for patient movement and breathing in targeting the radiation.

The treatment causes no pain, so anesthesia and pain medication are not needed. Nurses and doctors oversee the procedure going on in the treatment room with cameras and can hear and talk with the patient through an intercom system.

How long does CyberKnife treatment last?

CyberKnife treatment requires no hospitalization. One treatment process usually takes less than an hour and takes place in Anova’s office. Most patients complete their therapy after 1 to 5 treatments. There is no post-surgical recovery or rehabilitation and patients can go home immediately after the procedure.

How long does it take for treatment to take effect?

CyberKnife treatment results may take weeks or months to detect. The outcome depends on the condition being treated. Anova will monitor a patient’s progress through periodic follow-up examinations and imaging tests such as MRIs and CT scans.

What are CyberKnife’s side effects?

Typically, there are no side effects after a CyberKnife treatment and patients return to normal activities immediately. However, some patients may experience rare side effects including nausea and dizziness, which usually can be prevented with medications taken before or after treatment. Those symptoms should pass within a few hours of treatment.

What does treatment feel like and how long does it take?

Treatment is painless. You will not feel anything as the radiation is delivered. You may hear and see the CyberKnife machine moving and setting up for the next position in treatment. Relaxing is the best thing you can do, while lying still. You can bring a CD of relaxing music to listen to during your treatment.

Time of treatment will vary, depending on the area being treated. Each stage or fraction, typically lasts one hour. You may need only one fraction, while others require up to 5 fractions for most effective treatment. Your doctor will tell you how long the treatment will take.

Is CyberKnife clinically proven?

The CyberKnife System is based on radiation technology that has been proven for more than 30 years. Thousands of patients have received CyberKnife treatments worldwide, and numerous clinical studies have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

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