CyberKnife treatment continues to expand
CyberKnife of Texas, a collaborative effort between the ETMC Regional Healthcare System and Tyler Neurosurgical Associates PA, celebrates its first year of operation in November 2007. The Cyberknife® Stereotactic Radiosurgery System, over a $4 million investment, can treat tumors in the brain, chest, spine, pelvis, and abdomen - virtually anywhere in the body - with sub-millimeter accuracy.
"It's a way of performing surgery without using a scalpel," said neurosurgeon Brian Snell, MD, of TNA. "It gives you the opportunity to treat tumors that you might not have been able to treat before because of them being close to really important structures, like the spinal cord or the brainstem or the optic nerves." For brain and spinal cases, CyberKnife also offers the added benefit of being frameless. To treat these areas previously required patients to be bolted into a head frame for a prolonged period of time.
"During its initial application, the CyberKnife system was used mainly for brain and spinal cases. As we approach our first full year of operation, CyberKnife has proven to be an effective treatment option for patients with tumors located in other parts of the body," said Todd Sigmon, director of the ETMC Cancer Institute. Lung and pancreas tumors have benefited from these advances and soon ETMC hopes to begin treating prostate cancer on a national protocol with the CyberKnife system. Dr. Heidi McKellar of the ETMC Cancer Institute says "CyberKnife will offer yet another option for men dealing with prostate cancer and will give the East Texas medical community yet another viable tool to treat this disease. By offering choices including surgery, IMRT, radioactive seed implants, and CyberKnife radiosurgery, ETMC will offer the full complement of care for the community we serve."
Located within the ETMC Cancer Institute, the CyberKnife combines two advanced technologies. First, it's a lightweight radiation delivery system mounted on a multi-jointed robotic arm with an outstanding range of motion, providing access to hard-to-reach tumors. "The system delivers radiation beams with sub-millimeter accuracy, conforming to small, complex-shaped tumors while avoiding healthy tissue nearby," said James Kolker, MD, medical director of the ETMC Cancer Institute.
CyberKnife uses an image guidance system similar to those used for guiding cruise missiles. "The CyberKnife tracks the tumor position in real time, synchronizing radiation delivery to the motion of the tumor throughout the respiratory cycle," explains Dr. Snell. "The image guidance system gives us the ability to focus these beams right at the area that needs this dose of radiation."
The treatment is an outpatient procedure that takes 30 to 90 minutes. It's noninvasive, with no pain or anesthesia. ETMC has treated over 120 patients in its first year of operation. Because this highly specialized technology is not available in many places, patients have come from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. We even had an email from a patient in the Ukraine seeking more information!
Worldwide more than 20,000 patients have been treated with this system. This is the first and only facility in East Texas offering CyberKnife. For more information, contact CyberKnife of Texas at 1-888-40-CYBER or visit www.cyberknifeoftexas.com