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With robotic precision, CyberKnife offers noninvasive radiation therapy anywhere in the body. And now it’s available in Wilkes-Barre.

By Anand Mahadevan, radiation oncologist

Hearing the words “cancer treatment plan” can make you feel overwhelmed. It can be hard to understand the difference between treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy. You may be left with a lot of questions as you try to make sense of what to expect.

One such cancer treatment option is a new, non-invasive treatment called CyberKnife®. CyberKnife is a non-surgical treatment that can be used to treat inoperable or complex tumors using very precise doses of radiation anywhere in the body.

When you’re battling a cancer diagnosis, the last thing you want is to travel for the latest treatment or away from your loved ones. That’s why we’ve brought the most advanced radiation therapy treatment closer to home by offering CyberKnife at the Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Cancer Center at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, along with a highly experienced team.

What is CyberKnife?

CyberKnife isn’t a knife at all — in fact, this treatment doesn’t require any surgery or incisions. But its name affirms it can be just as precise. The CyberKnife system is an advanced radiation therapy treatment that delivers accurate doses of radiation to hard-to-reach tumors and is even able to track their movement. CyberKnife can be used to treat both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors located anywhere throughout the body, including:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Head/neck cancers
  • Brain tumors
  • Spinal tumors
  • Cancers in the skull base

The CyberKnife system is the most advanced solution in treating tumors that tend to move throughout the course of a treatment session, such as in the lungs when a person breathes or in the prostate when a person moves or has bowel or bladder changes. Unlike traditional radiation therapy, CyberKnife accounts for these natural movements by aligning the beam of radiation not only to target the treatment area more accurately but to avoid healthy tissues.

How does Cyberknife work?

Sometimes, doctors refer to tumors as “inoperable” — either because they are hard to reach or because surgery may not be the best treatment for that person. If you’ve been told you have inoperable cancer, or if surgery just isn’t the right fit for you, CyberKnife may be an option.

Here’s how it works.

Once your care team determines CyberKnife is right for you, you’ll start by having a consultation and treatment-planning appointment with a radiation oncologist. To prepare for treatment, you may require a procedure in which tiny markers are placed near the tumor to accurately guide the radiation beams.

Before your treatment begins, your doctor will perform a CT scan, which will be transferred to the CyberKnife system, along with any MRI, CT or PET scans you may have had. This will help create a 3D image to pinpoint the specific size and location of your tumor. Your radiation oncologist will use this information to build a unique treatment plan for you, determining precisely how to target the tumor while keeping the surrounding area healthy.

CyberKnife treatment typically requires a fewer amount of treatments than traditional radiation therapy — 5 sessions versus 40 sessions for prostate cancer, for instance. The average session lasts less than an hour. During your session, you can listen to music or watch TV to help you relax as you lie comfortably.

Most CyberKnife treatment sessions are completed in one to five appointments, typically over the course of 7 to 10 days. The number of sessions you need will depend on the type, location, stage and size of your tumor.

After your treatments are complete, you’ll have follow-up appointments with your radiation oncologist and your cancer team. During these appointments, your team will evaluate whether the treatments have worked and how your tumor has responded.

CyberKnife: A non-surgical treatment

Because CyberKnife is not a surgical treatment, there are:

  • No incisions
  • No having to undergo anesthesia
  • No post-operative recovery

This means no pain, less downtime and more time to do the things that matter to you.

Sometimes, as a side effect, radiation therapy can cause damage to nearby healthy tissue. CyberKnife, however, due to its robotic precision and tracking, can significantly reduce the amount of unintentional radiation to this tissue and has minimal side effects — so you’ll feel more like yourself in fewer treatments.

CyberKnife at Geisinger

We know that your cancer journey is not the same as anyone else’s — and what works for others may not be the right treatment for you. We’ll be here along the way to answer your questions and explain the entire process to you and your loved ones.
We offer the latest CyberKnife system and a highly experienced team at the Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Cancer Center at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

Next steps:

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be life-changing. Here’s what happens next.
You’ve got an army at your side. Find community resources.
Learn about cancer care at Geisinger
Learn more about Dr. Mahedevan