5 things men should know about CyberKnife® for prostate cancer
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you should know that treatments are more personalized than ever before. Depending on your diagnosis, other health conditions and preferences, options range from watchful waiting to surgery and can include noninvasive but powerful radiation therapy, like that delivered by the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system. If you’re considering your options, here are five tips that can help you pick the right treatment.
- Know you have time to explore. Prostate cancer tends to be slow-growing, so you have time to do some research and find a treatment approach that is right for you.
- Look for doctors who provide flexibility. Treatment options for prostate cancer include hormones, radiation, and surgery—to name just a few of the approaches that are commonly used. But some hospitals and medical practices offer just one or two treatments, which can limit your options. Practices that include a number of different kinds of specialists, or that are part of larger hospital systems, have the most flexibility when it comes to suggesting the approach that fits your situation. CyberKnife of Long Island is part of Northwell Health, New York’s largest hospital system, so we can perform or refer you to the full range of therapies for prostate cancer. “We take a team approach to finding the right therapy for each patient,” says radiation oncologist Richard Byrnes, MD, Medical Director of CyberKnife of Long Island.
- Remember that cutting isn’t the only way to get rid of cancer. A nonsurgical approach like radiation therapy can be very effective for men with low risk and intermediate risk prostate cancer. A number of different kinds of radiation therapy can be appropriate, including a kind called stereotactic radiosurgery, delivered by the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system. The name aside, there’s no actual cutting involved in CyberKnife treatment, so you don’t need anesthesia or a hospital stay. Instead, the CyberKnife system uses radiation to painlessly destroy cancer cells. First, a few tiny gold markers are implanted in an outpatient procedure to allow the CyberKnife robot to target the prostate with pinpoint accuracy. Then you’ll have five treatment sessions, each lasting under an hour. After each treatment, you can resume your day—many men get up off the table and go back to work.
- Take side effects into account. Doctors who specialize in prostate cancer have two main concerns: first, treating the disease, and second (and almost as important), minimizing side effects like sexual dysfunction and urinary incontinence. The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system uses advanced 3-D imaging and a robotic arm that can aim radiation at the tumor from virtually any direction or angle. It also has the unique ability to detect and instantly correct for the movement of the prostate gland during treatment. Together, these high-tech capabilities mean that the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system can deliver high doses of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the radiation exposure to healthy tissue. “Research is continuing, but the literature suggests that radiation therapy, like that delivered by the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery system, is particularly good at avoiding side effects like impotence or incontinence,” says Dr. Byrnes.
- Focus on efficacy. Even though radiosurgery is gentle, it’s very effective, says Dr. Byrnes—one study showed a 99% survival rate at 15 years for low risk prostate cancer. “At this point, it seems equivalent to conventional radiation and surgery for all early prostate cancers and select intermediate-grade cancers,” he says. “It’s another reason for men to consult with experts who offer every option, so they can choose the one that best controls their cancer while protecting their quality of life.”
To learn more about prostate cancer treatment options, contact Dr. Byrnes at CyberKnife of Long Island at (631) 864-5600.