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The Nasseff CyberKnife® partnership

Nasseff CyberKnife® is part of John Nasseff Neuroscience Institute, and is a project of the United Hospital Foundation.

CyberKnife services are provided in partnership with Minnesota Oncology and the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute.

Conditions treated

The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body, including the head, spine, lung, prostate, liver and pancreas.  The treatment – which delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy – offers new hope to patients worldwide. 

What is the CyberKnife system?    
Though its name may conjure images of scalpels and surgery, the CyberKnife  treatment involves no cutting. In fact, the CyberKnife System is the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout the body non-invasively. It provides a pain-free, non-surgical option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for an alternative to surgery.

Danny discusses surgery vs. CyberKnife.

Dr. Chang: The CyberKnife has revolutionized our ability to treat cancer patients. Previously, radiosurgery was restricted to treating tumors within the head but the majority of tumors that occur in patients occur outside the head. By going to a frameless platform, such as the CyberKnife, we now can significantly expand our ability to treat tumors throughout the body.

How does it work?
The CyberKnife System uses advanced software and imaging techniques to track the tumor location as it moves with natural body motion (such as breathing and digestion). It then detects the tumors position and proceeds to treat the tumor minimizing harm to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Using a robotic arm, the CyberKnife System is able to move around a patient’s body firing hundreds of radiation beams from virtually any angle to reach tumors anywhere in the body.  These beams intersect at points within the tumor exposing it to a high dose of radiation, while tissue and organs in the path of an individual beam receive very little radiation.

How does the CyberKnife differ from radiation therapy?  
Unlike conventional radiation therapy, which delivers low dose radiation in 30 to 45 treatments, CyberKnife radiosurgery delivers high dose radiation in 1 to 5 treatments vastly reducing treatment time and allowing minimal interruptions to the patients daily life.

Suzanne talks about needing a procedure that would allow her to return to a normal life faster.

The CyberKnife System can be used as an alternative to surgery, unlike radiation therapy, which is often used in conjunction with surgery.  This differentiator is especially important for patients who are inoperable or have surgically complex tumors offering patients a treatment option where there previously was none.

Patient quote (Suzanne Kroph): Quote patient on how she couldn’t get surgery/or chose not to and why.

What makes the CyberKnife System unique?

The CyberKnife System is a one-of-a-kind device for several reasons. 

  • First the CyberKnife System uses image guidance software to track and continually adjust treatment for any patient or tumor movement. This sets it far ahead of other similar treatments. It allows patients to breathe normally and relax comfortably during treatment. 
  • Second, some forms of radiosurgery require rigid head-frames that are screwed into the patient’s skull to minimize any movement. The CyberKnife System does not require such extreme procedures to keep patients in place, and instead relies on sophisticated tracking software, allowing for a much more comfortable and non-invasive treatment.
  • Third, unlike some radiosurgery systems, which can only treat tumors in the head, the CyberKnife System has unlimited reach to treat a broad range of tumors throughout the body, including the head, spine, liver, prostate, and lungs.
  • And finally, the CyberKnife System's treatment accuracy is unrivaled. Its ability to treat tumors with pin-point accuracy is unmatched by other radiation therapy and radiosurgery systems. The CyberKnife System can essentially “paint” the tumor with radiation allowing it to precisely deliver treatment to the tumor alone, sparing surrounding healthy tissue. 

Dr. Christie (RRS DVD): A lung tumor moves constantly with respiration. With conventional radiation, you’d have to radiate the whole area where the tumor might be in any phase of respiration.  Whereas the CyberKnife, the radiation device actually tracks the tumor, and allows us to give a very focused dose of radiation to the tumor and not the surrounding normal lung.

What happens during a CyberKnife treatment?
CyberKnife treatments involve a team approach in which several specialists participate. 

Prior to the procedure, the patient is imaged using a high-resolution CT scan, to determine the size, shape and location of the tumor.  

Following scanning, the image data is digitally transferred to the CyberKnife System’s workstation, where the treatment planning begins.

A qualified clinician then uses the CyberKnife software to generate a treatment plan. The plan is used to match the desired radiation dose to the identified tumor location while limiting radiation exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. 

Once the treatment plan has been developed, the patient is ready to undergo the CyberKnife procedure.  After arriving at the CyberKnife Center, patients are comfortably positioned on the treatment table. Then the CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will slowly move around the patient to the various locations from which it will deliver radiation to the tumor. 

Each treatment session will last between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the type of tumor being treated. If treatment is being delivered in stages, patients will need to return for additional treatments over several days (typically no more than 5), as determined by the patients doctor.

Patients may experience some minimal side effects, but those often go away within the first week or two after treatment. 

What happens when a CyberKnife treatment is completed?
After completing CyberKnife treatments, patients should schedule and attend any follow up appointments recommended by their doctors.

It is important to note that tumors will not suddenly disappear. Response to treatment varies from patient to patient.

Clinical experience thus far has shown most patients respond very well to CyberKnife treatments. Patients' doctors will monitor the outcome in the months and years following your treatment, often using CT, PET-CT or MRI scans.

Eligibility and treatment outcome with the CyberKnife system may vary from patient to patient.

Please visit for more information.

Pain-free, non-surgical option for complex tumors

Though its name may conjure images of scalpels and surgery, CyberKnife  treatment involves no cutting.

This video explains tumor treatment options available through CyberKnife.

Non-invasive treatment for tumors and lesions

The CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and lesions, anywhere in the body. The treatment – which delivers high doses of radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy – offers new hope to patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for a non-surgical option.

The radiosurgeons at Nasseff CyberKnife have performed more than 2,000 CyberKnife treatments and together have more than 35 years of experience in radiosurgery of all types. Our specialists are proficient at treating cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and lesions throughout the body and head:

We also treat neuropathic disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia.