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A Revolutionary Treatment Alternative

CyberKnife’s sophisticated system of delivering focused radiation therapy provides a better way of pinpointing and targeting tumors in various parts of the body using real-time, image-guided robotics.

Although the name “CyberKnife” and the term “radiosurgery” suggest that surgery is involved, that is not the case: there is no cutting. CyberKnife is a non-invasive alternative to surgery that can treat both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body, including the brain, head and neck, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate and spine. A high dose of radiation is used to kill a tumor just as a surgeon would remove a growth; hence the term “radiosurgery.”

CyberKnife is often an option for patients who cannot undergo surgery or may be seeking an alternative to surgery. CyberKnife often makes it possible to treat cancers that cannot be treated any other way.

What CyberKnife Treats

This state-of-the-art technology offers a new treatment option for:

  • Intra- and extra-cranial tumors of the brain, head and neck, kidney, liver, lung, optic apparatus , pancreas, prostate and spine.
  • Certain vascular malformations and functional disorders, such as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and trigeminal neuralgia.
  • Hard-to-reach tumors and those previously considered inoperable, such as pancreatic tumors and certain spinal tumors.
  • Complex tumors requiring highly “conformal” treatments — where the radiation beams are shaped to closely match the tumor so that healthy tissue is spared.
  • Previously treated local recurrences of cancer.
  • Tumors that move while the patient is breathing.
  • Irregularly shaped tumors.

Highly Focused Radiation

CyberKnife imagesThe CyberKnife’s radiation delivery device — called a linear accelerator — provides high-dose radiation extremely accurately and in less time than traditional radiation therapy. Fewer treatments are required because the dose is higher.

The system’s image-guided software tracks and continually adjusts the treatment for any patient or tumor movement. Because of this, the patient does not need to stay totally still during treatment. For certain cancers, such as brain tumors, this eliminates the need to use rigid head frames that may have to be screwed into the patient’s skull to reduce movement.

More than 100,000 patients have been treated worldwide with the CyberKnife system, and more than 3,000 of these patients have been treated here at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Latest Technology

In November 2010, BIDMC upgraded its CyberKnife technology, improving the CyberKnife’s accuracy and precision while shortening treatment time. Most treatments can now be delivered in 30 to 90 minutes. The number of treatments depends on the specifics of the tumor, but CyberKnife generally requires fewer treatment sessions than traditional radiation therapy. Unlike traditional external beam radiation, which usually requires several weeks of daily treatments, CyberKnife treatment is delivered in one to five sessions.

In addition, CyberKnife now has the ability to shape the radiation field using the Iris Variable Aperture Collimator, a mechanism that adapts the diameter of the pencil-thin beam of radiation that is delivered to the patient so it is the same shape as the tumor. The idea is to “paint” the tumor with highly focused radiation while sparing healthy tissue.

Contact Information

Keith C. Field CyberKnife Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215