5 things to know about CyberKnife® and lung cancer
If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, it’s important to know that there are effective treatments—even if surgery isn’t an option. The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system can deliver a precise, powerful treatment for lung cancer that’s easy, safe, pain-free and effective. If you can’t have or don’t want surgery, here are five things to know about radiosurgery and the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system:
- Radiosurgery is effective. The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system delivers a kind of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiosurgery. Despite its name, there’s no cutting involved—instead, it uses high doses of very precisely targeted radiation to destroy cancer cells. “Clinical studies show that stereotactic radiosurgery works very well,” says radiation oncologist Richard Byrnes, MD, Medical Director of CyberKnife of Long Island. In fact, nearly 84 percent of people with early-stage lung cancer survive more than four years after treatment with CyberKnife radiosurgery—about the same cure rate as with surgery.
- Radiosurgery is accurate. Conventional radiation treatment for lung cancer directs a single beam of radiation at a tumor, but stereotactic radiosurgery systems work differently. The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system uses 3-D imaging to aim multiple beams of radiation at the tumor from many different directions, focusing all of them very precisely—think of the way a magnifying glass concentrates a beam of light. The beams come together to hit the tumor with a very high dose of radiation while minimizing the exposure to healthy tissue. This maximizes the treatment’s cancer-killing effect while keeping side effects to a minimum.
- Radiosurgery is gentle. While surgery is generally considered the most definitive treatment for lung cancer, it may not be appropriate if you have emphysema or other lung problems, or if you’re older or frail. The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system is much easier to tolerate than surgery, since there’s no cutting, no anesthesia and no hospital stay. You simply lie on a table for 45 minutes to an hour per session. “For most people, CyberKnife has no side effects,” Dr. Byrnes says. “You don’t get sick, you don’t get nauseous, you certainly don’t become radioactive, and you don’t lose your hair. A lot of people actually fall asleep during treatment.”
- Radiosurgery is easy. A tumor in the lungs poses an obvious treatment challenge, because it moves as you breathe. Sometimes, patients getting conventional radiation treatment wear a compression device that prevents them from breathing deeply so that the tumor doesn’t move so much. But the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery software and respiratory tracking system is able to lock onto the tumor and track its movement in real time. Patients can breathe normally while the radiation beam remains highly targeted, protecting healthy tissue.
- Radiosurgery is fast. Conventional radiation therapy for lung cancer generally requires five sessions per week for six weeks, but treatment with the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system is typically delivered over just four to five days. “Patients often don’t believe how fast and easy the treatment is going to be until they go through it, and then they’re thrilled,” Dr. Byrnes says. “If CyberKnife is a good fit for you and your disease, it’s just a wonderful technology.”
To learn more about lung cancer treatment with CyberKnife, contact Dr. Byrnes at CyberKnife of Long Island at (631) 864-5600.