CyberKnife is a noninvasive radiotherapy to treat cancerous and noncancerous tumors by delivering high intensity radiation beams to the defected area with accuracy. It does not remove or cut the tumor, but shrink it and eventually destroys the tumor cells by reducing their growth while sparing the surrounding tissues. The procedure does not involve any incisions made to extract the tumor and does not cause any blood loss or pain. It is highly effective to treat hard to reach tumors that can’t be removed from conventional surgery. Unlike usual radiation therapy, it does not involve weekly sessions and can be finished in a few days.
CyberKnife treatment is given through an external machine called a linear accelerator containing a robotic arm that delivers the radiation waves. It is mainly used to treat kidney cancer, brain and spinal tumors, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and liver cancer.
During the procedure
The patient is asked to place on a table which slides into the linear accelerator. The procedure does not involve any use of local or general anesthesia. The radiation therapist will you get positioned accurately so that CyberKnife can easily reach the tumor. Once you have adjusted well, the staff will clear out of the room to avoid radiation exposure. Several imaging tests will be performed before and during the procedure to ensure the location of the tumor and adjust the radiation waves.
CyberKnife consists a robotic arm that delivers beam and adjust in real time to the patient’s breathing cycle. It also helps to track the movement of tumors, which even though being restricted, move nonetheless, and send radiation with great accuracy. Due to its accuracy, the procedure does not damage any nearby issues and offer faster recovery.
Radiation therapy involves some mild or severe side effects and even though CyberKnife is an advanced form of the same technology, it still contains some side effects that vary from patient to patient. These could be:
- Mild fatigue and weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Radiation pneumonitis and fibrosis
- Increased pain or fracture
- Injury to nearby tissues
- Swelling at the treatment site
- Upset stomach
- Urinary issues
Post operative care
The procedure lasts for an hour or two based on the type and location of the tumor. Once the treatment is finished, the patient will require to visit for follow up check ups where he/she will be encouraged with physical and emotional support. You will also receive proper guidance that you need to follow in order to recover fast and avoid complications.
Several imaging tests will be performed to avoid recurrence or a new cancer. During these visits, you can talk to your doctor about potential issues that you may be experiencing. The effects of the procedure may take weeks or even months to be visible.
If the recurrence does appear, your doctor may give further CyberKnife treatment or any other cancer treatment method