Stereotactic (or radiosurgical) radiotherapy systems such as the CyberKnife® System are able to direct a high dose of radiation at the tumour with extreme precision. This precision spares the surrounding healthy tissue and the treatment only takes a few sessions.
Unlike conventional radiotherapy, the radiation head of the CyberKnife® system (the so-called linear accelerator) is mounted on a robot arm and can thus be moved flexibly. This design ensures that the tumour can be irradiated from different directions.
During the treatment, movements of the patient are monitored with the help of a camera. If movements of the patient cause a change in the position of the tumour, the robot automatically corrects the focus of the radiation. Moving tumours can thus be treated with the highest precision.
Stereotactic radiotherapy delivers small doses of radiation over several treatment sessions to allow adjacent healthy tissue to regenerate from one session to the next. The cancer cells do not manage to regenerate in these short intervals and therefore die.
Before the first radiation session, an imaging examination (computer tomography, magnetic resonance tomography, angiography or PET scan) is performed to determine the size, shape and exact location of the area to be treated.
Based on this data, the "radiation field" - the area where the rays are to be directed - is narrowed down. The treatment plan is then drawn up.
After the images have been evaluated, the data is transferred to the treatment planning system. A qualified doctor identifies the target tumour(s), as well as the adjacent vital areas that need to be protected.
This is followed by the determination of the required radiation dose to be administered to the tumour(s). Based on the radiation dose, the number of sessions (usually one to five) is determined. The medical physicist draws up an optimal treatment plan based on this information.
Depending on the type and location of the tumour, radiographic markers (small markers, to identify the tumour) are used. These help to locate the tumour precisely during treatment. It is not always necessary to use them. Radiographic markers are used when the tumour is mobile or in the prostate.
No surgical intervention is necessary for treatment with the CyberKnife® system.
The patient lies comfortably on the treatment table while the CyberKnife® system automatically assumes the positions from which the tumour is irradiated.
At the same time, X-rays are taken continuously to monitor the position of the tumour. This enables the system to dynamically follow the movements of the tumour and correct the radiation accordingly.
The treatment lasts between 15 and 50 minutes, depending on the size of the tumour. During the treatment, the patient is alone in the treatment room. This measure protects the medical staff from excessive radiation exposure.
Because of the innovative design and advanced technologies used in the CyberKnife® system, treatment is tailored to each patient's specific needs. This customisation helps to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient.
Follow-up imaging tests, usually computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, angiography or PET scan, are usually performed in the months following treatment to assess the tumour's response to the delivered radiation.
Your doctor will decide if treatment with the CyberKnife® system is suitable for you. They will decide in a multidisciplinary discussion, based on their clinical experience, the type of tumour, its location and size as well as its extension, whether treatment with the CyberKnife® system is an option.
The CyberKnife® system is versatile. It can treat early stage cancer or metastases. It is also used to re-irradiate tumours that have already been irradiated.
In some cases, treatment with the CyberKnife® system can be combined with or be an alternative to surgery, chemotherapy or conventional radiotherapy.
Due to its handiness and precision, the CyberKnife® system can be used as a non-invasive alternative to surgical treatment for inaccessible or/and inoperable tumours. It is also used in cancer operations when the tumour cannot be completely removed.
The CyberKnife® system is an alternative to continuing conventional radiotherapy when healthy tissue has already received the maximum radiation dose during the first conventional treatment.
It is not necessary to fast or to shave the area to be irradiated. For a treatment session, please wear normal clothing with a high cotton content.
No, the treatment does not cause any pain.
Yes, but you will be able to communicate with the nurses and doctors via a microphone. The treatment is monitored by a camera.
As a rule, the treatment does not require a stay in hospital or an interruption of your work. Please discuss this with your doctor.
The costs of treatment with the CyberKnife® are reimbursed by health insurance companies and supplementary health insurance companies depending on the indication.