How does CyberKnife® treat brain cancer?

The CyberKnife SRS system improves on other radiosurgery techniques by eliminating the need for a fixed metal head frame attached with screws to the patient’s head. A mesh mask is worn during treatment instead. The CyberKnife is composed of a linear accelerator mounted on a robotic arm. The highly maneuverable, precise delivery system enables doctors to achieve an exceptional level of accuracy in a non-invasive manner. CyberKnife is an outpatient treatment performed in one to five treatment visits with minimal to no side effects. During the CyberKnife treatment, hundreds of highly concentrated and incredibly precise beams of radiation are targeted directly to tumors and lesions in the brain.

How does it work?

The CyberKnife System pinpoints the tumor’s exact location in real time using images taken during the treatment that reference the unique bony structures of a patient’s head while correcting for small head movements. High-dose radiation is delivered directly to the tumor, ablating the cells of the tumor while minimizing radiation exposure to critical areas in the brain and spine.

Before treatment, the patient will have a CT scan to determine the size, shape, and location of the brain tumor(s) or lesion(s). During the CT scan, the patient wears a mesh mask that is light, flexible, and completely non-invasive. The mask will be fitted to the face so that the patient is comfortable and able to lie still during the treatment. After the CT scan, the team of doctors, which may include the radiation oncologist and neurosurgeon, will determine whether additional pre-treatment procedures (such as an MRI, a PET scan, or an angiogram) are necessary.

During treatment, the patient is able to lie still and relax as the CyberKnife’s computer-controlled robotic arm moves quietly around the head area, delivering high-dose radiation directly to the tumor or lesion.

After treatment, most patients resume their normal activities.

What are the risks and side effects?

CyberKnife treatment involves few to no side effects, with the most common being fatigue. The vast majority of CyberKnife treatments allow patients to resume their normal routines afterward. Some patients actually take naps during their treatments while others have reported going to lunch or mowing their lawns following treatment.

How effective is it?

As numerous clinical studies show, CyberKnife offers an effective treatment option for brain cancer and noncancerous brain tumors and while carrying an extremely low likelihood of negative side effects. CyberKnife’s ability to treat tumors and lesions at an extremely precise level makes it an alternative treatment to surgery and conventional radiation therapy for patients with complex tumors and for patients seeking non-invasive ways to treat their tumors or lesions.

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