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'CyberKnife' posts

Cyberknife for spine patients

Cyberknife is a type of radiosurgery used to deliver radiation to a specific part of the body.  This high-energy x-ray system utilizes a robotic arm to deliver focused beam radiation.  While the focused radiation can destroy tumor cells and halt tumor growth, the surrounding tissues have minimal exposure to the radiation, thus sparing them from damage.

When is it used?

CyberKnife is useful for both cancerous and noncancerous tumors.  While it has been used to treat tumors of the head, neck, breast, lung, pancreas, kidney, liver, and prostate, it can be extremely effective for the treatment of  spinal tumors.  

How does CyberKnife work?

Patients who undergo CyberKnife have a specialized treatment plan created for them by their neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, and a medical physicist.  These personalized plans take into account the specific location of the tumor in the body, including the tumor type, shape, size, surrounding tissues and organs (to minimize radiation exposure) and the exact quantity of radiation the tumor cells are receiving,

Why not just have surgery?

Any ....

Radiosurgery treatment for brain metastases reduces risk of memory loss and improves survival

When a person has metastatic cancer, the brain is one of the organs that cancer cells can migrate to. If this happens, the condition is called brain metastases. The brain metastases will have the same cancer cell type as the primary cancer, such as lung or breast cancer.

If this occurs, radiation treatment is often used to control these areas of disease. Research is finding that utilizing stereotactic radiosurgery as the initial treatment for people with four or less brain metastases is associated with improved survival and reduced risk of memory loss compared to whole brain radiation. Stereotactic radiosurgery ....

What are the options when lung cancer is inoperable?

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and for those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, one dreaded word is inoperable. Many feel defeated when they hear they are not candidates for surgery, but promising non-surgical treatments are available. CyberKnife, a form of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), is one of these options.

Radiation treatment to a moving target adds a level of complexity. However, CyberKnife tracks a tumor and directs targeted radiation via a state of the art robotic arm. Most patients complete their treatment in 3 to 5 days.

Highly focused radiation has become the standard of care for treating medically inoperable early stage non-small cell lung cancer with excellent results.

This video demonstrates the robotic real-time tracking of the CyberKnife.

Quality of Life Following CyberKnife Treatment for Prostate Cancer

The Swedish Radiosurgery Center is the lead site in a national multi-institutional study evaluating CyberKnife for treating men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer (clinical stage 2). As the principal investigator of this study, I reported on the quality of life outcomes at the annual meeting of American Society of Radiation Oncology.

We now know that in low-risk prostate cancer patients (stage 1), active surveillance is a safe option. But men with intermediate-risk cancer have a significant risk of dying of their disease, so intervention is necessary. Conventional treatments (surgery, radioactive seed implants and external beam radiotherapy) can adversely affect patients’ quality of life.  We sought to determine if the unprecedented accuracy of CyberKnife treatment would translate into improvement in these patients’ quality of life.

We treated ..

Life-saving technology and getting the word out about radiosurgery

Twice last week I received phone calls from grateful family members thanking us for taking care of their loved ones when treatment options were dwindling. One patient is now 4 years past his CyberKnife treatment for inoperable lung cancer and is going strong and living life to the fullest. The other patient was recently treated and is feeling great and planning a European vacation. Both families are extremely appreciative for the care they received but both voiced frustration that they stumbled upon this treatment option by chance and that we need to do a better job of publicizing the radiosurgery modalities. As the person receiving these calls, I am thrilled to hear how our center has positively impacted so many lives but struggle with how to get the word out to those who may benefit from radiosurgery in the future. So with our patients’ stories fresh in my mind, here is an introduction to radiosurgery.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is targeted radiation therapy delivered to nearly any body part with precision while utilizing real time image guidance. The ....

Acoustic Neuromas & How We Treat Them

Acoustic Neuromas, also known as vestibular schwannoma, is a slow growing  benign tumor on the balance nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain.

This is an uncommon condition, found in roughly 1 in 100,000 people. The most common symptoms include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in your ear), and vertigo (a feeling of imbalance). Because these symptoms are present with many conditions, it is important to see your doctor if they persist more than a few weeks. Your healthcare provider will make a referral to an ENT surgeon or to a Neurotologist if they feel you need further evaluation. Neurotology is a sub-specialty of  otolaryngology (ears, nose, and throat) specializing in the neurological conditions of the ears and brainstem (also referred to as skull base surgery. if an acoustic neuroma is suspected). The neurotologist may conduct a clinical evaluation, hearing and balance tests and imaging studies, such as MRI, to make the diagnosis. 

Once diagnosed, there are many options to consider:

  • Observation with a repeat MRI scan in 6 months. If the scan shows no growth,  repeat scanning at annual intervals for 3 years is recommended. If the tumor size is stable, the scan will be repeated after 2 years thereafter. If at any interval the tumor grows, the other treatment options should be considered.
  • Radiosurgery is an option which ...

Treating Arteriovenous Malformations to Remove the Risk of Rupture

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the brain is a relatively rare condition – occurring in less that 1 percent of the population. It can, however, be neurologically morbid in young adults ages 15 to 20, who are at the greatest risk for hemorrhage and least likely to exhibit symptoms. About 2 to 4 percent of all AVMs each year hemorrhage.

An AVM’s tangled mass of blood vessels, which forms in utero, produces multiple direct connections between arteries and veins without the normal, intervening capillaries. Symptoms often are not present until later in life or until after the AVM ruptures.

A small number of congenital syndromes, such as Sturge-Weber, Rendu-Osler-Weber, ataxia telangiectasia, and Wyburn-Mason, are associated with AVMs. Once formed, extrinsic factors, such as arterial shunting, growth factors and intracranial hemorrhage, may alter the size and shape of an AVM.

The most common types of AVMs are:

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