Alternative Cancer Treatment: CyberKnife
CyberKnife, a great alternative cancer treatment option
The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is revolutionizing cancer treatments with a precise, powerful nonsurgical treatment that gives patients an alternative cancer treatment to the conventional surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapies.
Many cancer treatments often take months to complete, and the patient has to suffer from debilitating side effects. But now CyberKnife is changing the way of treating cancer by only taking a few sessions to complete with mild side effects, if any. This makes CyberKnife a great alternative cancer treatment compared to traditional options.
Regardless of its name, CyberKnife is not a knife that makes incisions but rather a radiosurgery treatment that uses radiation beams to target the tumor. Essentially, the CyberKnife system attacks the cancerous area with radiation that is precisely targeted, down to less than a tenth of a millimeter (about 4/1,000ths of an inch). Such targeted accuracy achieved with computer-assisted robotic guidance greatly reduces the chance of the radiation harming healthy cells, a common cause of cancer treatment side effects.
CyberKnife can treat many kinds of cancer including, but not limited to, cancers of the prostate, lung, bone, brain, liver, kidney, spine and pancreas. This alternative cancer treatment option can be effective for patients who have gone through or are currently undergoing other treatments for their cancer. CyberKnife is also a good option for cancer recurrences.
The oncologists at Anova Cancer Care can also discuss holistic care options such as diet changes, acupuncture, hypnosis, aromatherapy and meditation with each patient. While holistic cancer treatments are unproven in their effectiveness treating cancer, they can help with many side effects including fatigue, nausea, pain, stress, anxiety and sleep problems. Most of these side effects are not present or are reduced with CyberKnife’s alternative cancer treatment.
Benefits of CyberKnife
The precise concentration of radiation that CyberKnife offers has many benefits for the patient.
Faster treatment times
An advantage of the accuracy of the beams is that CyberKnife can provide a higher concentration of radiation. This allows most patients to only need between 1-5 treatments over a week, versus 30-40 treatments that can take weeks to complete with other radiation options.
Limited side effects
This targeted treatment saves the surrounding healthy tissues, which when damaged along with the unhealthy cancer cells is a large contributor to many side effects of other treatments. Side effects for some CyberKnife patients can include dizziness and nausea, which usually pass within a few hours of treatment. Some patients take medication prior to or after the treatment to reduce the chances of side effects. Most patients can return to their daily activities directly after treatment.
CyberKnife treatment requires no hospitalization and leaves no incision, nor does it require anesthesia. During a CyberKnife session the patient can have a relaxing experience that lasts less than an hour. Patients will lie down on the treatment table, fully clothed, and listen to music of their choice. Unlike other forms of radiosurgery, CyberKnife uses image guidance to precisely target the tumor, even while patients breathe and move during treatment. This is especially helpful for a patient with lung or breast cancer.
Treating hard to reach tumors
The imaging and computer controlled robotics of the CyberKnife machine also offer a treatment option for hard to reach, inoperable tumors in locations in the brain and spine as well as moving organs. This is another example that shows why CyberKnife’s ability to save the healthy cells around the tumor is valuable for many patients.
History of CyberKnife
Dr. John Adler, a professor of neurosurgery and stereotactic radiosurgery at Stanford Universtiy, invented the CyberKnife system in 1987. He was aiming to reduce the limitations from frame-based radiosurgery treatments, like Gammaknife, that was only used for head and upper neck tumors.
The CyberKnife system performed its first treatment in 1994 at Stanford Health Care. In 1999 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CyberKnife for the treatment of tumors and lesions in the head, neck, spine and brain. The CyberKnife system was cleared by the FDA to treat tumors anywhere in the body in 2001. This treatment protocol was followed across the world with Europe, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea all approving the use of CyberKnife by 2008.
One of Anova Cancer Care physicians, Dr. Lee McNeely, was at the forefront of CyberKnife and brought the first system to Colorado in 2003. It was only the seventh machine installed in the U.S.