The London CyberKnife Centre at The Harley Street Clinic is the first clinic of its kind in the UK. CyberKnife® treatment requires no anaesthesia, no long recovery time, and patients can usually be treated and go home on the same day.
Worldwide, some 35,000 patients have already been helped by this revolutionary, safe, non-surgical procedure that delivers highly focussed radiation therapy precisely to where it is needed, minimising damage to surrounding normal tissues.
The CyberKnife® System is the world’s first and only radiosurgery system that uses advanced robotics to treat tumours anywhere in the body. Patients are typically treated in one to five sessions and the technology is able to target individual tumours with greater precision and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue than any other form of radiotherapy.
What is CyberKnife® cancer treatment?
The CyberKnife® is not actually a knife at all. It’s a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that allows specialist oncologists to treat tumours and other medical conditions painlessly without the need for an operation.
CyberKnife® uses pencil beams of radiation which can be directed at any part of the body from any direction via a robotic arm. The robotic arm tracks the tumour’s position, detects any movement of the tumour or patient, and automatically corrects its positioning before targeting the tumour with multiple beams of high-energy radiation, destroying abnormal tissue without damaging surrounding areas.
The treatment is so accurate that it is now possible to treat tumours previously thought to be inoperable. Although the results of treatment do not always show immediately, in most cases the procedure will initially stop the growth of a tumour before gradually reducing its size.
How the CyberKnife® works
The vast array of different angles/trajectories from which pencil beams of radiation converge upon the tumour lead to an extremely high cumulative dose of radiation therapy at the convergence point (the target/tumour) and yet a very fast ‘fall-off’ of dose at the periphery of the carefully mapped target. The surrounding normal tissues/organs only receive a small fraction of the high central dose of therapy.
Whilst any tumour may be destroyed by a very high dose of radiation therapy, it has very often been the case, with orthodox radiotherapy, that it has not been possible to deposit the required dose on a tumour without also depositing a toxically high dose of radiation on the surrounding organs. CyberKnife® often overcomes this problem by its capability to accurately target and achieve a fast dose gradient (‘fall-off’) at the perimeter of the tumour/target. It can be used as treatment for the following cancers/tumours:
- Brain tumours
- Spinal cancers
- Prostate cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Localised metastatic cancers
- Cancers requiring re-treatment
The treatment process
Prior to treatment with the CyberKnife® System, the patient undergoes imaging procedures to determine the size, shape and location of the tumour. The process begins with a standard high-resolution CT scan, or for certain tumours other imaging techniques, such as MRI, angiography or PET, may also be used.
Following the scanning, the image data is then digitally transferred to the CyberKnife® System’s treatment planning workstation, where the treating physician identifies the exact size, shape and location of the tumour. A qualified physicist then uses the CyberKnife® software to generate a treatment plan to provide the desired radiation dose to the identified tumour location while avoiding damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. The patient does not need to be present during this step in the process.
During a CyberKnife® procedure, the patient lies comfortably on the treatment table, which automatically adjusts to the required position. Anaesthesia is not required, as the procedure is painless and non-invasive. The treatment generally lasts between 30 and 90 minutes and is typically completed in one to five visits.
Follow-up imaging, generally performed with a combination of CT, MRI and/or PET scanning, is usually performed in the months following treatment to assess the tumour’s response to the delivered radiation.
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