With CyberKnife™ radiation therapy, Austin Cancer Center specialists can treat hard-to-reach tumors safely, often without the need for invasive surgery.
The CyberKnife Difference
CyberKnife is a robot-assisted tool that delivers cancer-killing radiation treatment directly to the site of tumors — no incisions necessary. The system harnesses and directs the energy created by a machine called a linear accelerator. When cancer cells are exposed to this energy, it disrupts their life cycle, causing them to die off instead of spreading.
Detailed images of tumors and patient anatomy are used to make sure the powerful energy produced by the system is aimed only at cancer cells. Pictures taken before treatment — and even in real time during treatment — tell the system and technician exactly where the tumor is so therapy is always aimed precisely. For added safety, CyberKnife even adjusts for the slight movements made when patients breathe.
Targeting cancer cells this way limits radiation exposure to the healthy tissue that surrounds tumors. Less damage to healthy tissue improves long-term patient outcomes.
When Is CyberKnife the Right Choice?
Because the CyberKnife system can be adjusted to account for unique patient anatomy, it is an ideal option for treating tumors that are otherwise difficult to work on because of their location. Cancers that are not easy to operate on, such as brain tumors, are one such category; however, this technology can be used to treat tumors anywhere in the body in a noninvasive way.
CyberKnife radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery. Patients’ doctors help decide the most appropriate course of treatment to suit each unique case.
What to Expect
Prior to treatment with the CyberKnife system, images of the tumor are taken, and a treatment plan is created. Special custom-fit braces are used to help patients stay still while radiation is administered.
During treatment, a robotic arm moves the CyberKnife system into place while an in-room imaging system monitors the tumor’s position in real time. Treatment takes between 30 and 90 minutes and may be administered once or once a day over the course of two to five days. Therapy is completed on an outpatient basis. Patients can return home after each session.
CyberKnife therapy does not destroy tumors instantly. It can take several months for cancer cells to die off once the radiation therapy stops the cells’ ability to reproduce and spread. Patients must follow up with doctors after treatment to monitor their progress.
To learn more about cancer treatment at Austin Cancer Center or to connect with a cancer care specialist, call (512) 508-8511.