Surgery is generally the standard treatment for lung cancer, but many patients are unable or unwilling to have surgery. Our specialists offer CyberKnife® Radiosurgery to painlessly treat your lung cancer with little to no recovery time.
Lung cancer treatment with CyberKnife
A diagnosis of lung cancer can be intimidating. At CyberKnife of Long Island, we offer patients new hope in treating lung tumors with our advanced, noninvasive CyberKnife System.
Our experienced radiation oncologists at CyberKnife of Long Island have been treating lung cancer patients with the CyberKnife technology since 2008. We were the first in Suffolk County to offer this service and are backed by the resources and expertise of Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York.
Benefits of CyberKnife treatment for lung cancer
There are a number of benefits to CyberKnife treatment for lung cancer patients, including:
- Pinpoint accuracy. CyberKnife is so precise that higher doses of radiation can be delivered because there’s less chance of healthy tissue being damaged in and around the heart and other critical organs. This reduces the duration and number of treatments required to treat your cancer.
- Outpatient capability. CyberKnife of Long Island offers CyberKnife treatment for lung cancer patients in our comfortable and convenient office location, so there's no need to go a hospital.
- No surgery or incisions. In some cases, we may need to place tiny pellets (called fiducial markers) into the lung tumor so it’s easier to spot—but that’s a minor procedure that can often be done at the same time as your biopsy.
- Fast treatment. Treatment for lung cancer is completed in three to five sessions, with each session taking approximately an hour.
- Painless procedures. Much like an X-ray, you don’t feel anything during CyberKnife treatment, so there’s no pain or sensation and no need for anesthesia or sedation.
- Minimal side effects. CyberKnife treatment doesn’t cause you to feel sick and won’t result in hair loss.
- Little to no recovery time. You can return to normal activities the same day.
Candidacy for treatment
Surgery is generally the treatment of choice for patients with early stage lung cancer. However, if you are unwilling or unable to undergo surgery, CyberKnife treatment may be an option to consider. CyberKnife can be used instead of or along with surgery and chemotherapy, is an effective option for recurrent or metastatic cancer, and is also a potential treatment option if you have already received radiation therapy.
Patients with the following conditions may be candidates for CyberKnife treatment:
- Early stage, non-small cell lung cancer such as squamous cell, large cell, and adenocarcinoma
- Metastatic lung cancers resulting from renal cell, melanoma, colon cancer, and breast cancer
- Inoperable lung tumors
- Patients who cannot undergo lung cancer surgery due to a medical condition
- Patients who do not want to undergo surgery
- Patients who have previously been treated with radiation therapy or have a recurrence
What to expect
The challenge that doctors face with tumors in the lung is that these tumors move as you breathe. This makes it difficult to accurately target with standard radiation. As a result, the tumor may not receive enough radiation and healthy tissue near the tumor may be damaged. However, CyberKnife’s sophisticated software and respiratory tracking system allows us to confirm the exact location of the lung tumor and continually track its movement in real time, enabling us to precisely deliver radiation without damaging healthy surrounding tissue.
Patients who receive standard external beam radiation therapy for lung cancer receive up to 35 treatments over the course of seven weeks. In contrast, CyberKnife allows us to treat lung tumors with high radiation doses in three to five sessions, depending on the location of the tumor and other factors. This substantially reduced treatment time frame is advantageous for busy people seeking the least amount of disruption to their daily lives.
The CyberKnife treatment process for lung cancer typically includes seven steps:
- Consultation—A CyberKnife of Long Island radiation oncologist will meet with you to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options. Your medical records will be reviewed to help determine whether pretreatment procedures are needed. Our CyberKnife nurse coordinator will assist you during your first visit and help address your needs and concerns throughout the entire process.
- Fiducial placement—Some tumors may require the placement of fiducial markers (tiny pellets) into your lung tumor. The fiducials serve as reference points for the location of the lung tumor during treatment since the lungs are not attached to bone and continually move. Not all treatments require these markers and this determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.
- Imaging—About a week or so after the placement of the fiducial markers, you will undergo imaging studies such as CT scan and MRI to determine the size, shape and location of your treatment area.
- Treatment planning—The CT scan images are downloaded to the CyberKnife treatment planning computer where our experienced radiation oncologists and expert medical physicists use advanced software to develop a customized treatment plan.
- Treatment—You will return the following week for your first CyberKnife treatment. You can dress comfortably in your own clothes and bring music. During the treatment, you will lie on a table while a robotic arm moves around you and delivers beams of radiation to your lung tumor from many directions. When your appointment is over, you can usually return to your normal activities.
- Recovery—There are generally only minimal side effects from CyberKnife treatments, which may include mild fatigue.
- Follow-up—One or more follow-up appointments will be scheduled to monitor your progress. Keep in mind that the tumor will not suddenly disappear. In fact, it could take several weeks or longer to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.