April 4, 2012 (Tampa Bay, Fla.) – Cancer patients worldwide and here in Florida are making a new choice in their care – robotic radiosurgery – a revolutionary advancement offered locally by CyberKnife Centers of Tampa Bay. CyberKnife targets tumors with accuracy unparalleled in other radiation oncology treatment, giving patients more control over their treatment and, more importantly, their lives.
Robotically assisted techniques have enhanced the capabilities of many medical specialties, from cardiology and gynecology, to neurosurgery and orthopedics, and are now being used with great success in the field of oncology. Although it sounds like a surgical procedure, CyberKnife treatment is completely non-invasive and involves no cutting. In fact, CyberKnife is the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout the body with a pain-free, non-surgical option.
A robotic arm allows radiation to be directed toward any part of the body from any direction. This robotic mounting differentiates the system by allowing for instant repositioning of the radiation delivery without movement of the patient.
“Since it’s creation at Stanford in 1994, CyberKnife has literally changed not only the way we treat cancer, but who we can treat,” explains Debra Freeman, M.D., Board-Certified Radiation Oncologist at the center. Dr. Freeman, a renowned specialist in radiosurgery, is responsible for bringing the second CyberKnife system to the state of Florida in 2004. “Because the system is completely non-invasive, we can perform life-saving procedures on patients who couldn’t otherwise be treated with chemotherapy or surgery.”
Other treatment options have a margin of error, where radiation directed at the cancer can also damage surrounding healthy tissue. “With CyberKnife, we can literally paint just the tumor within a sub-millimeter with radiation beamlets, and all but eliminate the damage to the surrounding tissue,” Dr. Freeman says. “This is a critical component when treating near vital organs like the lungs, spinal cord and heart.”
Another important benefit from CyberKnife is treatment time. Because of the high-dose, highly-targeted radiation beams, patients are typically finished in three to five sessions. “Time is one of the greatest advantages we can offer our patients. Some radiation options take up to 45 sessions, and chemotherapy can take months to complete,” Freeman explains. “This technology allows us to effectively treat the patient and more quickly let them get back to their lives again.”
“We are continuing to explore everything CyberKnife can do, constantly utilizing it in new ways in clinical trials,” Freeman shares. “In fact, just earlier this year, treatment using the system for a chronic nerve pain condition called trigeminal neuralgia showed some promising results. While there is still more research to be done, we know there are many other possibilities for this machine and robotic technology in general.”
The CyberKnife system has been approved for cancer treatment by the Food and Drug Administration since 2001. Since then, more and more insurance companies are recognizing the benefits of this technology for reimbursement.
As a newer technology, CyberKnife also works closely with several patient advocacy organizations that offer legal and financial assistance to educate and promote patient coverage. “We do all we can to ensure patients’ insurance will cover their procedures including working out payment options. Ultimately, it’s about doing what’s right for the patient and their disease,” says Kevin Mayeski, B.S., RTT, director at CyberKnife Centers of Tampa Bay.