CyberKnife® for Metastatic Cancer

Bone Metastases

Bones are another common site for metastases, which occur when cancer cells from a primary cancer spread to the bone. Metastases can form small holes in the affected bone, which weaken the bone and increase the risk of fractures and other issues. Prostate, breast, and lung cancers are the most common sources of bone metastases, though almost any cancer has the ability to spread to the bones. CyberKnife is a non-surgical option for treating bone metastases and spinal tumors delivering targeted high-dose radiation to cancer cells while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue. Treatment is delivered in one to five sessions and no overnight hospital stay is required. While healthy tissue can be damaged with conventional radiation therapy for bone metastases, radiosurgery with CyberKnife spares normal tissue, which is particularly important when treating spinal metastases close to a critical structure, such as the spinal cord. CyberKnife radiosurgery has been shown to control tumor growth and provide pain relief.

Brain Metastases

The most common sources of metastases in the brain include lung, breast, and skin cancers, though almost any cancer has the ability to spread to the brain. Chemotherapy is not effective for treating metastatic brain tumors. Radiosurgery is. Unlike most radiosurgery systems, the CyberKnife doesn’t need an invasive head frame. Other radiosurgery systems are capable of high-dose radiation treatment. However, nearly all methods use a metal frame attached to the patient’s skull with screws that immobilize the head to accurately target the tumor. Local anesthetic is used for mounting the frames, though frames can be uncomfortable and painful to some extent. The CyberKnife allows patients to receive a high dose of radiation in more than one treatment. Other systems do not. Known as fractionated radiosurgery, this method is particularly beneficial for patients who have previously received radiation therapy, as well as those with tumors near critical areas of the brain. CyberKnife radiosurgery delivers high-dose radiation while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue by precisely aiming multiple beams of radiation from many different angles. Therefore, radiosurgery is one the most aggressive and effective radiation treatments available for brain metastases. While whole-brain radiation therapy can require numerous treatments over several weeks, Cyberknife radiosurgery is usually completed one to five sessions and only treats the tumor(s), not the whole brain. CyberKnife radiosurgery also is used frequently for patients with more than one metastatic tumor, a condition that usually prevents surgery. CyberKnife can also be used after surgery to prevent regrowth or to treat a tumor that persists or regrows after surgery.

Liver Metastases

Liver metastases develop when a cancerous tumor from another part of the body spreads to the liver through the bloodstream. Common sources of metastases in the liver include colorectal, breast, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, and stomach cancer, though almost any cancer has the ability to spread to the liver. CyberKnife technology allows for real-time tracking of liver tumor motion, adjusting for movement during the treatment. CyberKnife’s ability to treat tumors with precisely focused radiation offers an important advantage for liver cancer patients. Accurate to within less than a millimeter, radiosurgery has minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue. This level of accuracy enables doctors to target metastatic lesions in the liver with high-dose radiation. CyberKnife is given in five or less treatments over several days compared to 30-40 treatments over several weeks needed for standard radiation.

Lung Metastases

Lung metastases develop from cancer cells that spread from another cancerous tumor in the body, usually through the bloodstream or through the lymphatic system. Bladder, breast, colon, kidney, and prostate cancer can be the source of the metastatic lesion/tumor in the lung, CyberKnife technology tracks breathing, correcting for tumor movement during the treatment which allows treatment only to the tumor target, minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy lung tissues and critical anatomy and causing fewer, if any, side effects. Patients are able to breathe normally and relax comfortably throughout the treatment.

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