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Intracranial tumors and lesions

Intracranial tumor treatment with CyberKnife

Welcome to the CyberKnife patient education video. During the next few minutes we hope to help you better understand how the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is used to treat tumors and other lesions in the head.

We believe that the more a patient – and their family and friends – know about the steps involved in the CyberKnife treatment, the more comfortable everyone will be with the procedure.

The CyberKnife System is one of the most advanced stereotactic radiosurgery systems in use today. It relies on robotics and sophisticated image guidance technologies to attack tumors with extreme precision. The flexibility of the robotic arm enables your doctor to deliver multiple beams of high-dose radiation directly to your tumor from almost any angle while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and critical structures.

Your treatment involves a team approach, in which several specialists participate.  

Once the team is in place, you will begin preparation for the CyberKnife Treatment. 

Unlike other radiosurgery systems – such as the Gamma Knife – the CyberKnife System does not require patients to be fitted with a rigid and invasive head frame.  As a result, you will be more comfortable while your radiation is delivered with extreme accuracy. 

During set-up, a flexible mesh mask will be created and custom-fitted to your face.  Your radiation therapist typically performs this step. This comfortable and non-invasive mask will be used to stabilize your head and neck during treatment. 

While wearing the face mask, you will undergo a CT scan.  This CT data will be used by the CyberKnife team to determine the exact size, shape and location of your tumor. 

An MRI, PET scan or angiogram also may be necessary to fully visualize the tumor and nearby anatomy. Once the imaging is done, your face mask will be removed and it will be stored in a safe place for use in your CyberKnife treatment.

During treatment planning, your relevant CT, MRI and/or PET scan data will be downloaded into the CyberKnife System’s treatment planning software. Your medical team will determine the size of the area being targeted by radiation, the radiation dose and will identify critical structures <such as your spinal chord or vital organs: LUNG> where radiation should be minimized.

After your treatment plan is developed, you will return to the CyberKnife Center for treatment.  Your doctors may choose to deliver the treatment in one session, or stage it over several days. Typically, treatments are completed within five days.

For most patients, the CyberKnife treatment is a completely pain free experience. You can dress comfortably in street clothes and your Center may allow you to bring music to listen to during the treatment. 

When it is time for your treatment, you will lie down on the treatment table while your custom fitted face mask is secured into place.  

The CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will slowly move around your body to various locations from which it will deliver radiation to your tumor.

You can expect each treatment session to last 30 to 90 minutes depending on your specific tumor. Nothing will be required of you during the treatment, except to relax and lie as still as possible.

After completing your CyberKnife radiosurgery treatment, it is important to schedule and attend any follow up appointments. You must keep in mind that your tumor will not suddenly disappear.

Once treatment is complete, most patients quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption to their normal activities.  If your treatment is being delivered in stages, you will need to return for additional treatments over the next several days as determined by your doctors.

Response to treatment varies from patient to patient.  Clinical experience thus far has shown most patients to respond very well to CyberKnife treatments.  Your doctors will monitor the outcome in the months and years following your treatment, often using either CT scans, and/or PET-CT scans.

Thank you for choosing the CyberKnife System and we hope that this video has addressed any questions you may have. Please consult with your doctors if you have any questions specific to your treatment.

Source: Leslie Nussbaum, MD,  PhD, neurosurgeon, co-medical director, Nasseff CyberKnife
Reviewed By: Leslie Nussbaum, MD,  PhD, neurosurgeon, co-medical director, Nasseff CyberKnife
First Published: 02/10/2015
Last Reviewed: 02/06/2016