Everyone is unique. So is every tumor. Tumors can be hard to reach and treat. However, CyberKnife® offers unsurpassed accuracy and the ability to adjust to tumor size and location anywhere in the body, offering new hope for patients.
Mercy Cancer Center offers Iowa’s only flexible stereotactic radiosurgery system (SRS). CyberKnife® is the only SRS system that utilizes robotic technology combined with image-guidance to administer precision radiation treatments to previously inoperable tumors without the need for rigid patient restraints or undue patient discomfort. The CyberKnife® Center provides hope for some patients who may have received the maximum allowable dose of radiation or have been told their condition is untreatable.
The CyberKnife® delivers radiation to difficult-to-target sections of the body including the brain, spine, liver, lungs, head, neck and other areas that traditional methods or systems, such as radiation therapy or the gamma knife, cannot reach. This non-invasive method requires no anesthesia and does not present the same risks as traditional surgery.
The revolutionary CyberKnife® procedure has proven successful in removing cancers, tumors, lesions and treating functional disorders for more than 35,000 patients worldwide.
Incidences of cancer in Iowa are expected grow as the elderly population grows by 72 percent by 2025. The CyberKnife® Radiosurgery Center of Iowa is expected to play a primary role in treating previously inoperable tumors and offering hope of cancer survival.
What is CyberKnife?
CyberKnife® is unique in that it uses a linear accelerator mounted to a flexible jointed robotic arm to provide up to 1,200 different angles for physicians to reach a variety of tumors both benign and malignant. Surgeons synchronize CyberKnife® with patient movements, including breathing, to allow pinpoint radiation treatment even on moving tumors.
The extreme accuracy of the CyberKnife® is unsurpassed, lending it the ability to deliver high precision radiation to the tumor while avoiding the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. The addition of the CyberKnife® Radiosurgery Center, located in the Mercy Medical Plaza, offers tumor patients new treatment options that were not possible in the past. Initial uses have been for brain and spinal tumors, but CyberKnife® can treat tumors anywhere in the body.
“Radiosurgery is by definition predicated on accuracy. The CyberKnife® is capable of sub-millimeter accuracy. Better accuracy means a lower dose of radiation to nearby healthy tissue, and this means fewer side-effects for the patient,” said Richard Deming, M.D., medical director for the CyberKnife®Radiosurgery Center of Iowa.
The CyberKnife® Radiosurgery Center of Iowa provides outpatient image-guided radiosurgery using the CyberKnife® system. The level of clinical experience shared by the medical team and the diverse patient population served make the Center unique in every aspect of patient care. Treatment days are Monday through Friday and begin early in the morning. Patients receive between 1 and 5 treatments, depending on the case. There will typically be visits for consultation, fiducial placement (for lung and other extra-cranial cases), and for simulation (a CT scan used to plan each patients’ individualized treatment), and finally for your treatment(s). The average treatment session takes 1 to 2 hours with the potential for a treatment to take up to 3 hours depending on the condition being treated, location, and the number of lesions/tumors targeted. Anesthesia is not necessary for this procedure as it is non-invasive, however a mild sedative may be given to help the patient relax and remain still during treatment.
The CyberKnife® procedure is performed using a multi-disciplinary team, which may include a surgeon or neurosurgeon, radiation-oncologist, medical physicist, radiation therapist and a registered nurse. Typically this team is present during the treatment and is available to assist the patient and answer any questions they may have before, during and after the treatment session(s). CyberKnife® patients are encouraged to bring family members or friends for support.
What to expect
Patients are scheduled for a planning session (pre-treatment) prior to receiving a CyberKnife®treatment. If the condition being treated is for a brain tumor or lesion, a custom-molded face mask is created in order to restrict movement during the treatment session(s).
The mesh face mask is molded to the patient’s face quickly and the process is painless. The mesh mask is allowed to dry and will be ready for the patient’s use on the day of treatment. During the planning stage, the patient may receive a CT and/or MRI. These images are then used to plan the treatment target and dose. Following the CT and/or MRI scans, the patient can return home until the day of treatment.
If the condition being treated is not intracranial, but elsewhere in the body, special gold markers may need to be placed in the body. These markers are called fiducials, and they help the CyberKnife® physicians localize the treatment area. Fiducials are implanted by an interventional radiologist, often in an outpatient medical center, and normally do not require hospitalization. Fiducials are very small gold seeds, are completely harmless, and will remain in the body following treatment.
Each patient receives an individualized treatment plan and treatments are specific to the condition being targeted. Consequently treatment times may vary. Some patients require additional treatments depending on the size and location of their lesion. Fractionated treatments are usually of shorter duration given in two to five sessions usually on consecutive days.