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Date: 5 April 2020
CyberKnife patient information
Why choose CyberKnife?
CyberKnife is one of the most advanced and sophisticated radiation therapy systems available for delivering stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is a treatment which involves precisely targeting high energy X-rays (ionising radiation) at a specific area with the aim of destroying any abnormal cells. Some patients may benefit from having highly focussed and accurate radiotherapy known as stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT). If only one treatment is given, it is often referred to as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).
At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEHB), stereotactic radiosurgery has been given for over a decade using a head frame and a modified conventional radiotherapy machine (linear accelerator). The arrival of the CyberKnife unit means we can deliver these treatments on a specialist machine and without a head frame. The CyberKnife is a unit which has a radiotherapy machine, mounted on a robot arm. This enables high doses of radiation to be delivered with sub-millimetre accuracy, as the CyberKnife has the ability to track the tumour’s position throughout the treatment. This means that the treatment can be delivered from many different angles.
The benefit of this is that the normal tissue around the area being treated receives a much lower dose than with conventional radiotherapy. Stereotactic radiotherapy is potentially suitable for the treatment of small well-defined tumours such as selected brain tumours and certain stages of prostate cancer. You can discuss with your consultant whether CyberKnife is suitable for you, what the various treatment options are and the advantages and disadvantages of these, including side effects.
The wide range of equipment, expertise and specialist staff within the radiotherapy department at QEHB means that we can tailor your treatment to your needs.
What happens during treatment?
Before beginning CyberKnife treatment, your clinician will put together a plan using 3D images from a combination of scanning technologies and special software. This is to establish the precise contours for each treatment target and surrounding sensitive organs or tissues. This is often done with input from the wider multidisciplinary team to have the benefit of their expertise.
The clinician will then decide how much radiation the target should receive, as well as acceptable levels for nearby healthy tissue. Based on the clinician’s prescribed dose, the planning team will use a computer system to calculate the appropriate pattern, position and intensity of the radiation beams to be delivered.
The treatment itself is painless. The experience is similar to having an X-ray taken. You will not feel anything but you will hear and see the robot moving around you. On average, a full daily CyberKnife procedure takes between one and one and a half hours from when you enter the treatment room.
Patients usually undergo between one and five sessions of CyberKnife treatment. The CyberKnife suite is open Monday to Friday.