In the five years since Georgetown University Hospital began using its first CyberKnife, a robotic, non-invasive radiosurgical tool to treat brain cancers, the number of cases being treated outside the brain has increased to 57 percent. Initially purchased in April 2002 for the treatment of brain, neck and spinal tumors, GUH physicians are now using it to treat tumors anywhere in the body.
“More than half of our CyberKnife treatments are now for tumors outside of the brain. That’s quite a shift considering we purchased the technology only to treat the brain, neck and spine. Our biggest increase has been with cancers in the lung, pancreas and prostate,” said Dr. Gregory Gagnon, MD CyberKnife Program Director.
Georgetown began using a second CyberKnife machine in July 2007.
“The CyberKnife System has revolutionized cancer care. We are now able to treat a wide array of inoperable tumors, including many that were untreatable in the past, and we are able to get to places in the body we were unable to reach before. All of this and patients have a very short recovery time afterwards," Dr. Gagnon said.
To date, more than 35,000 patients have been treated with the CyberKnife System worldwide.
The company that manufactures CyberKnife, Accuray of Sunnyvale, California reports the use of CyberKnife to treat tumors outside of the brain has increased by 75 percent worldwide in the past year. The most dramatic growth was seen in the treatment of lung and prostate cancer in the United States, which doubled and quadrupled respectively since the end of 2006.
"Because it is non-invasive and delivers high-dose radiation at 1,400 different angles with sub-millimeter accuracy, the CyberKnife System is a perfect tool for destroying tumors, usually with minimal side effects. The result is shrinking or eliminating tumors while sparing surrounding healthy tissue,” said Dr. Gagnon.
Thanks to software called Synchrony, based on robotic technology, the CyberKnife System is also able to track, detect and correct for movement of the patient and tumor during treatment, making it a viable option for more and more patients with lung, prostate and pancreatic cancers.
In addition, the CyberKnife System offers patients more convenience than traditional treatments because of its short treatment time -- typically one to five days of treatments that last one to two hours each.
"Each CyberKnife treatment session lasted about an hour, and throughout the treatment I was able to relax and listen to my own music in a pleasant room," said Scott Silver, a prostate cancer patient who was treated with CyberKnife. " After the treatment was finished, I rested for no more than a day then resumed my normal activities.”
“We have been very pleased at Georgetown with the way we’ve been able to use CyberKnife to attack cancer virtually anywhere in the body. We continue to be impressed by the expanding range of tumors which can be treated with this technology as well as the low risks of treatment,” Dr. Gagnon said.
Media Contact: Marianne Worley