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CyberKnife - FAQs

What is the CyberKnife System?

The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body, including the head, spine, lung, prostate, liver, kidney, breast and pancreas. The treatment—which delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy—offers new hope to patients worldwide. Though its name may conjure images of scalpels and surgery, the CyberKnife treatment involves no cutting. In fact, the CyberKnife System is the world's first and only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout the body non-invasively. It provides a pain-free, non-surgical option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for an alternative to surgery.

How can I find out if a CyberKnife treatment is right for me?

The CyberKnife System has been approved to treat tumors anywhere in the body. However, if you would like to find out if the CyberKnife System is right for you, talk to your doctor or contact us using our online form.

How many patients have been treated with the CyberKnife System?

To date, more than 100,000 patients have been treated worldwide by the CyberKnife System. More than half of those patients were treated for lesions or tumors outside of the brain and head.

What are the patient benefits of treatment with the CyberKnife System?

Patient benefits include:

  • No incision
  • No pain
  • No anesthesia
  • No hospitalization
  • Little or no recovery time
  • Immediate return to daily activities

Has the CyberKnife System been cleared by the FDA?

Yes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the CyberKnife System to treat tumors in the head, neck and upper spine in 1999 and tumors anywhere in the body in 2001.

What side effects can I expect after a CyberKnife treatment?

Most patients experience minimal to no short-term side effects and recover quickly. Depending on the treatment site, some patients may experience different side effects such as mild fatigue or nausea. The radiation oncologist will disclose all possible side effects prior to treatment.

How many times can I receive a CyberKnife treatment?

The frequency of treatments depend upon where the tumor is located and what type of tumor is being treated. Most cases can receive multi-treatments or can be re-treated with the CyberKnife System.

Are CyberKnife treatments covered by private insurance companies and Medicare?

Data collected from US-based CyberKnife centers indicate that Medicare has covered the CyberKnife treatment, and over 100 commercial, private payers are reimbursing the related codes, and any or all portions of CyberKnife services. Patients should always consult with a physician in connection with any and all treatment options, and if required, obtain prior authorization from their insurance companies once a treatment option is determined.

After a CyberKnife treatment, when will my tumor or lesion disappear?

The effects of radiosurgery vary and may occur gradually and over time. The timeframe can range from days, months or years depending on the medical condition targeted. Some tumors may disappear slower than others or may simply stop growing and present no further cell activity. After treatment, patients typically are asked to get periodic images (CAT scan or MRI) of their tumor(s) and additional tests may be required, so the physician can monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.

Can the CyberKnife treat pediatric patients?

Yes, however not all CyberKnife centers treat pediatric patients.

How is a CyberKnife "radiosurgery" treatment different from a traditional radiation therapy treatment?

Traditional radiation therapy typically delivers radiation to a wide field of tissue in the body, resulting in the treatment of both the tumor and a large amount of surrounding healthy tissue. This type of treatment delivery results in damage to normal tissue and an increased risk of side effects. Therefore, clinicians were forced to re-think the way traditional radiation therapy was delivered. As a result Radiosurgery devices, such as the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System, were designed to deliver radiation with extreme accuracy, targeting the tumor with sub-millimeter accuracy, while limiting damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. The accuracy of the CyberKnife System allows clinicians to deliver very high doses of radiation safely because the size of the radiation field is smaller. This allows clinicians to complete treatment in one to five days vs. the weeks it takes traditional radiation therapy.

How does the CyberKnife System differ from other radiosurgery systems?

  • Unprecedented Targeting Accuracy
    Many tumors have moved during treatment delivery, even when the patient is immobilized. Using advanced robotic technology and the ability to track tumor motion throughout the treatment, the CyberKnife System can deliver radiation with extreme accuracy by automatically correcting for tumor movement in real-time. Currently, other technologies rely on static images taken just prior to treatment.
  • Unrivaled Conformality and Dose Gradient
    Unconstrained by the clockwise/counterclockwise rotations of conventional radiotherapy systems, the robotic mobility of the CyberKnife System enables beams to be delivered from a very wide array of unique angles (over 3000). By approaching the tumor from potentially thousands of different angles, the CyberKnife System can deliver precise doses of radiation to the unique contours of the tumor, while limiting exposure to surrounding critical structures.
  • Unparalleled Healthy Tissue Sparing
    As the only system capable of delivering beams that moves in real-time with 3D respiratory motion, the CyberKnife System significantly reduces the treatment margins around the tumor, compared to other radiation delivery systems. With smaller treatment margins, the CyberKnife System focuses the prescribed dose to the intended target, not the surrounding healthy tissue.

I am currently on or have been on chemotherapy. Am I eligible for a CyberKnife treatment?

The CyberKnife System can treat patients who have either gone through chemotherapy or are currently undergoing chemotherapy. It is important for the patient to provide their physician with a complete medical history, so to the physician can prescribe the appropriate treatment course.

I have had radiation or proton therapy. Am I still eligible for a CyberKnife treatment?

The CyberKnife System can treat patients that have either gone through radiation therapy or are currently undergoing radiation therapy. It is important for the patient to provide their physician with a complete medical history, so the physician can prescribe the appropriate treatment course.

How is cancer staged and what does this mean?

Staging describes the extent or severity of an individual's cancer. Knowing the stage of the disease helps the physician plan treatment and estimate prognosis. Staging systems for cancer have evolved over time and continues to change as scientists learn more about cancer.