FAQ

What is stereotactic radiosurgery?

Stereotactic radiosurgery is as non-invasive (non-surgical) treatment in which high doses of focused radiation beams are delivered from multiple locations outside of the body to destroy a tumor or lesion within the body. Radiosurgery does not remove the tumor or lesions. The radiation destroys tumor cells and stops the growth of active cells.

How common is stereotactic radiosurgery?

The procedure has been used for more than 30 years, and over 200,000 patients have been treated worldwide.

What is image-guided stereotactic radiosurgery?

The CyberKnife system uses a distinctive radiosurgery device with a linear accelerator (Linac), which produces the radiation mounted on a robotic arm. Through the use of image guided cameras, the CyberKnife locates the position of the tumor. The Linac attached to the robotic arm is then used to deliver multiple beams of radiation while minimizing exposure to surrounding normal tissue. With sub-millimeter accuracy, the CyberKnife is used to treat vascular abnormalities, tumors, functional disorders, and cancers of the body.

Is the CyberKnife safe and is common this procedure?

The CyberKnife, because it is not really surgery, does not present the same problems as traditional surgery. Mainly, there is no anesthesia or anesthesia after effects. And the risk of infection and hemorrhaging are minimized. The CyberKnife offers accurate precision within sub-millimeter distances and spares healthy tissue surrounding the targeted area. Over 8,000 people have received CyberKnife treatments around the world (following statistics). No mortality or morbidity data has been reported as a direct result of a CyberKnife procedure.

How is the CyberKnife system different from other stereotactic radiosurgery systems?

The CyberKnife uses the combination of a robotic arm and Linac image guidance.
1. Because of the flexibility of the robotic arm, the system is able to reach areas of the body that are unreachable by other radiosurgery systems.
2. unlike other stereotactic radiosurgery treatments, the CyberKnife is able to locate the position of the tumor within the body without the use of an invasive stereotactic head frame. This means no pin screws on your forehead or blood.
3. the CyberKnife system compensates for patient movement during treatment, constantly ensuring accurate targeting.

What can I expect during a CyberKnife treatment?

All CyberKnife cases are unique. Factors like:
- the patient’s medical condition,
- ambulatory status,
- pre-existing conditions,
and present treatments are considered during the planning phase and help the doctors formulate an individualized treatment plan. For example, some patients receive a single session of CyberKnife. Others staged (over time) treatments. Patients at the CyberKnife Center receive one-on-one education pre and post treatment so that they know what to expect during the process.

What types of conditions are considered for CyberKnife treatment?

The CyberKnife treats:
- intracranial (skull base) benign and malignant tumors,
- spine tumors and lesions of the cervical,
- thoracic and lumbar regions.
Additionally, the CyberKnife is capable of full-body targeting for:
- Thoracic surgery (lung);
- General Surgery (liver, pancreas);
- Head and Neck Surgery (laryngeal, nasopharyngeal, glossal);
- Urological Surgery (prostate)

What are the benefits of the CyberKnife?

There are many benefits to a CyberKnife procedure:
1. It is non-invasive,
2. does not require a headframe or painful immobilization device and
3. it is able to reach areas of the body previously thought untreatable.
It is ideally suited for those who are unable to undergo traditional surgery or who do not wish to risk surgery.

Who determines if CyberKnife is an appropriate treatment?

Medical necessity can be determined by your physician or specialist after evaluating your condition. The CyberKnife is a unique modality and as such only a CyberKnife trained physician can best determine if it is appropriate treatment for a particular condition. An experienced CyberKnife physician can offer the best advice and discuss other treatment options with you and your family. It is not uncommon for cases to be discussed with various physicians, including the patient’s primary doctor, before determining candidacy for CyberKnife treatment.

Can the elderly and children be treated with the CyberKnife?

Because the CyberKnife is less risky than traditional surgery it can be a suitable option for the elderly or for pediatric cases. Age is not a crucial factor in excluding patients from CyberKnife treatments. But in the case of children (7+), a pediatrician, have to be consulted to ensure the safety and comfort of the child during treatment.

After treatment, when will my tumor or lesion disappear?

The effects of radiosurgery occur gradually and over a period of time. The timeframe can range from days, months or years depending on the medical condition targeted. Some tumors dissolve slower than others and eventually disappear. Others simply stop growing and present no further cell activity. After treatments patients typically are asked to get periodic images (e.g.MRI) of their tumor(s) so that their physician can monitor the effectiveness of the radiation.

What are the complications or side effects of CyberKnife radiosurgery?

Complications with the CyberKnife are less prevalent than those found in other radiosurgery modalities or radiation treatments. After treatment sometimes patients experience headaches or feel nauseas or very tired. These symptoms are temporary and rarely the result of radiation, but simple nerves or fatigue due to lack of sleep. Uncommon complications may include skin reddening due to the face mesh or vomiting. Delayed symptoms may include local brain swelling in the treatment site, which can be addressed with steroids and other appropriate medications by the doctor. Rare complications may include vision loss or hearing loss depending on the diagnosis and condition being treated.

Will my hair fall out or burn my skin after CyberKnife treatment?

The radiation being delivered by the CyberKnife is so focused on a specific target that it is highly unlikely that hair loss or skin burn will occur. In the event that an intracranial lesion being treated is close to the scalp a patch of hair may be effected. The hair will grow back. Patients have always an opportunity to dialogue with members of the medical team so in the case they are aware of possible events specific to their case.

How many times can you receive a CyberKnife treatment?

The frequency of treatments depend on where the tumor is located and what type of tumor is being treated. Most cases can receive multi-treatments or be re-treated with the CyberKnife.

Are all CyberKnife Centers alike?

The CyberKnife is solely manufactured by Accuray®, Inc. and is patented for its unique image-guided system and robotic-arm delivery. CyberKnife Centers have their own medical director(s) and can be found in different medical environments, such as Universities, for-profit and non-profit medical centers as well as private medical practices around the world. Some CyberKnife programs only treat specific conditions, while others are opened to treating both whole-body and intracranial conditions.

Are there CyberKnife patient organizations I can contact for more information?

There are numerous patient organizations that can offer support and education to patients seeking more information on radiosurgery treatment. Specific to the CyberKnife is The CyberKnife Patient Support Group, a non-profit organization established in July of 2001. The CyberKnife Patient Support Group is dedicated to helping others by sharing the personal experiences of patients who have undergone a CyberKnife procedure.
www.cyberknifesupport.org