Recent studies prove CyberKnife’s efficacy in preserving sexual health with little to no side effects.
As one of the global leaders in treating prostate cancer patients with the revolutionary CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System, I recently teamed up with several oncologists to collect and report on clinical research conducted to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of CyberKnife for treatment. In the study, called the Multi-Institutional Registry for Prostate Cancer Radiosurgery, I along with my co-authors, report that CyberKnife treatment is effective in preserving sexual health without any other significant side effects.
Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer have a variety of treatment options available. Deciding which treatment to pursue can often be difficult, as there are many aspects to consider. One of the most important, aside from efficacy of treatment, is their quality of life after treatment compared with before treatment. Because treatment of the prostate involves the areas governing bowel, sexual and bladder function, quality of life after treatment is a major concern for men.
What we found in our study, whose results were published in Frontiers in Oncology, is that CyberKnife treatment is minimally harmful. We reported the following key findings:
- CyberKnife treatment produces low levels of toxicity that are superior to the level produced by other radiation treatment options including brachytherapy.
- Preservation of sexual function was achieved for 80 percent of patients who were sexually potent prior to CyberKnife treatment and somewhat less in men over 70 years old.
- The positive quality of life outcomes, low side effects, and brief duration of the CyberKnife treatment are particularly encouraging and significant for men weighing their many treatment options.
A proven radiosurgery therapy option
CyberKnife is a highly sophisticated type of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). SBRT focuses radiation beams and tracks an exact area of the body while the patient rests comfortably on the treatment couch.
The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is the most advanced system for the delivery of radiosurgery therapy. And that’s the system we use exclusively.
Radiation therapy has been used for decades to treat prostate cancer with varying degrees of success. The goal of any radiation therapy for prostate cancer is to deliver the appropriate dose of radiation needed to kill the cancer cells, while not harming the surrounding healthy tissues and organs, which is what causes side effects.
The CyberKnife is one of the most recently developed tools for delivery of a high dose of radiation in a short time period, however high dose radiation for prostate cancer has been around for 30 years. The CyberKnife radiosurgery treatment has been recognized as a breakthrough system of cancer treatment since it’s inception in 1987. The first prototype, created by Dr. John R. Adler, a Stanford University Medical Center professor, was approved in 1999.
In 2001, the FDA approved SBRT-type therapies, including CyberKnife, for use throughout the entire body. In 2012, the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) released a revised position on the use of radiosurgery in the management of prostate cancer, citing that these treatments “could be considered an appropriate alternative for select patients with low to intermediate-risk disease.” In 2013 the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recognized SBRT for prostate cancer as a standard treatment option.
I’ve personally treated more than 1,100 patients with the CyberKnife for prostate cancer and this is what I have seen:
- Patients with the earliest stage and grade of disease experience zero failures and have 100 percent control of their prostate cancer.
- In the next highest grade, patients enjoy over 99 percent control of the disease.
- All of the patients I’ve treated over the last year, regardless of stage and grade of prostate cancer, have had zero delayed side effects.
How does CyberKnife treatment work?
CyberKnife radiosurgery uses stereoscopic image guidance techniques to deliver large doses of radiation to a certain precise area, such as the prostate, and tracks it while it is moving. The doses of radiation are much greater than with other types of radiation treatment and are more effective at killing the cancer cells. The entire course of treatment is given over just a few days compared with typical radiation therapy, which can include over 40 separate treatments.
Patients who undergo CyberKnife treatment lie on a table under a robotic device that delivers beams of radiation. The radiation dosage applied is calculated based on the location, size, shape and density of the tumor.
A computer controls the robot that delivers the CyberKnife device’s radiation beams. Since the prescribed dose of radiation is only being applied to a specific area, the healthy parts of the body surrounding the tumor are not significantly affected. In addition, the CyberKnife automatically shifts its positioning to align with any movement of the tumor during the radiosurgery process, which occurs when the patient breathes, when muscles contract and relax, when the bowels fill, and as the bladder fills.
The treatment does not cause pain so an anesthetic is not needed and the patient can go home immediately after the procedure. Quite often patients will fall asleep, enjoying a nice nap on the comfortable, softly padded table during treatment. The primary patient benefits are:
- No incision
- No pain
- No hospital stay
CyberKnife treatment is a safe alternative to surgery for the treatment of cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body – including the prostate. Although there is always some risk of radiation exposure to areas of the body outside of the tumor, the instances of this occurring during CyberKnife treatment are significantly lower than with other radiation therapy treatments.
“An individual’s quality of life is an important aspect of having a fulfilling future. And the side effects of cancer treatment shouldn’t rob patients of this.”
At Anova Cancer Care, we treat patients with CyberKnife exclusively so they can return to life as they know it after cancer treatment. The majority of my patients say the same thing after being treated at Anova Cancer Care, “Why would anyone go anywhere else?” My patients’ lives are practically uninterrupted by the treatments that they receive.