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CyberKnife Radiosurgery

  Stereotactic Radiation Therapy, is a type of specialized radiation treatment delivery aimed at treating the smallest amount of the body possible and with higher doses of radiation.  Treatments should consist of 5 or less total days, and we typically aim to treat only the tumor and that is all.  Think of it as the "Round-Up" of radiation treatments, if cancer was a weed instead of a disease.  This type of treatment has many additional names, including stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), and stereotactic ablative radiation (SABR).  Each of these terms essentially refer to the same concept, but are used in different situations based on where in the body we are treating.  These treatments typically have a very high chance for success, and at Baptist Health Lexington, we deliver stereotactic radiation using a machine called CyberKnife.

The CyberKnife M6 Treatment Unit at Baptist Health Lexington.

What makes the CyberKnife unique, is that this is a radiation machine mounted on top of a robotic arm.  When treating a live person, it is extremely important to be able to account for normal movement due to breathing, digestion, and also when our patients get curious and try to look around the room!  The CyberKnife is able to identify what we want to treat, and follow it even if it is moving.  This leads to two very important characteristics:
  1. CyberKnife delivers the most precise and accurate treatment possible.

  2. More importantly, it is one of the best overall patient experiences.

... And there's actually no Knife involved... CyberKnife is a painless radiation treatment.
Why is CyberKnife such a better patient experience?
Stereotactic radiation treatments work because they target very small volumes of the body, but we need to make sure we are on target.  This essentially means we either need to be able to track and treat a tumor as it moves, or we need to make the tumor stop moving.  CyberKnife is the only radiation treatment machine that can actively track and make adjustments live during treatment.  We do not require patients to be in head frames or compression boards as are very often required for other stereotactic treatments delivered using machines other than CyberKnife.

CyberKnife treatments only require a

custom plastic mask that is painless.

gamma knife frame.jpg

Gamma Knife treatments require a

headframe that is screwed into the skull.

What will I experience during a CyberKnife treatment?
The typical treatment can last anywhere from 15 minutes to up to one hour.  Patients should not hear, smell, taste, feel, or smell radiation.  The treatment is painless.  Depending on where we are treating, there can be some side effects, although they typically minimal.  Ask your doctor to find out more regarding what to expect.
Are all patients able to receive CyberKnife treatment?
Unfortunately, CyberKnife treatment is not the right choice for everyone.  Because this type of treatment relies on only treating the area involved with cancer, and using higher doses of radiation per day - there are limitations.  People with larger tumors, cancers likely to be spreading to other areas, and in some other circumstances, we have other radiation treatments that will be better for you.   
What kinds of cancers are eligible for treatment with CyberKnife?
CyberKnife treatments are capable of treating lot of different kinds of cancers.  Most commonly, we treat brain cancers, early stage lung cancers, spine and spinal cord tumors, liver metastases, some pancreatic cancers, and prostate cancers.  There are many additional types of cancers that really depend on the situation.  Ask you doctor to find out if you qualify for CyberKnife treatments.
Will my insurance cover CyberKnife treatments?
All cancer treatments are unfortunately expensive.  Our approach is that after we complete an evaluation, we will submit all of the intended treatment plans to your insurance in order to obtain pre-authorization.  We do not want our patients receiving unwanted bills, so we should be able to confirm with you prior to treatment whether it is covered and what to expect.  In most situations where CyberKnife  is the right treatment, we are able to coordinate insurance coverage.

Select any of the below video links to learn more about CyberKnife and the cancer types we treat:

CyberKnife Patient Education Video

CyberKnife Treatment of Lung Cancers

CyberKnife Treatment of Multiple Tumors

CyberKnife Treatment of Prostate Cancer

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