By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & TechnologyWhen
Jesse Stricker was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was informed he had one of the tumors that can be treated with new technology at Mercy’s David C. Pratt Cancer Center in St. Louis. It’s called CyberKnife.
“The robot arm moves and rotates around you,” explained Stricker. “There’s no machine touching you. There’s no pain. There’s very little noise.”
The CyberKnife M6 is an alternative to conventional radiation treatments and surgeries for many types of cancers and conditions. CyberKnife is a fully robotic radiation delivery system, providing non-invasive treatment for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and other conditions where radiation therapy is indicated.
“That has advantages for the radiation oncologist,” said Dr. Robert Frazier, radiation oncologist. “It allows us to deliver very precise radiation because it can get into positions that other radiation machines may not be able to get into.”
Frazier said CyberKnife can minimize radiation to healthy tissue and organs, but delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor from many different angles with precision. CyberKnife has increased precision by using real-time imaging.
“It can actually track where the tumor is in the body,” he said. “For example, if you have a tumor in the lung and as the patient breathes the tumor is moving. With the CyberKnife, you can actually track that tumor. So that allows us to very precisely deliver the radiation to the tumor and minimize radiation to the normal lung tissue.”
The procedure is pain-free without anesthesia, and no recovery time. Depending on the type of tumor, patients can complete their treatment in one to five days compared to weeks usually needed for radiation therapies.
“About 30 minutes for each treatment, and you get up and walk out as if nothing happened,” said Stricker.
Tumors of the prostate, lung, brain, spine, head and neck, liver, pancreas, kidney and certain gynecologic tumors are often candidates for CyberKnife therapy. It also can be an option for some patients with inoperable or surgically complex tumors.