“A piece of cake!”
Chances are this isn’t how you’d expect a woman to describe
what it was like to be treated with radiation for breast cancer. But this
is exactly how Marilyn Steiner, 75, sums up her experience as one of the
first patients at Southeast Georgia Health System treated for breast cancer with the
CyberKnife® M6 Robotic Radiosurgery System. This state-of-the-art technology uses a computerized robotic arm to deliver
high-dose beams of radiation. It kills cancer cells with extreme accuracy,
while sparing healthy tissue in the breast, skin, lungs and heart.
“I had no fatigue, no skin irritation — not one side effect,”
Ms. Steiner says. “There’s nothing I couldn’t do after
A first in Georgia
Southeast Georgia Health System is the only medical center in Georgia to
CyberKnife M6 Series, the latest CyberKnife technology and one that provides unmatched precision.
Installed in November 2017 at the Cancer Care Center in Brunswick, it
replaced an earlier CyberKnife system primarily used to treat prostate
and lung cancers.
“This more advanced technology allows us to dose radiation more efficiently
and better target irregularly shaped tumors, which breast tumors often
Timothy A. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of the CyberKnife
program and the
Cancer Care Centers in Brunswick and Camden.
The precision of the new CyberKnife technology means that it can now be
used to treat women who need radiation therapy after a lumpectomy —
a surgery that removes only the cancerous breast tumor plus a small amount
of nearby healthy tissue.
Doctors almost always advise radiation after a lumpectomy to help destroy
any remaining cancer cells in the breast after surgery.
“CyberKnife delivers radiation only to the immediate area surrounding
the original tumor, where breast cancer is most likely to recur,”
says Dr. Jamieson, who planned and oversaw Ms. Steiner’s treatment.
Traditionally, radiation has been delivered to a woman’s entire breast,
and treatment lasted five to six weeks.
CyberKnife treatments are accelerated over just five days. As a result, women experience
few, if any, of the side effects that may occur with conventional radiation therapy.
CyberKnife also reduces the time of each treatment — it takes only 15 to 30 minutes.
Not all women who have lumpectomies meet the criteria for treatment with
CyberKnife. Women must have breast tumors that are three centimeters or
smaller, no lymph node involvement, and clean margins — meaning
there were no cancerous cells at the edge of a breast tissue sample.
Still, as many as one out of three women with breast cancer may meet these
criteria, Dr. Jamieson says.
A healthy future
As for Ms. Steiner, “She has a very good prognosis — it’s
unlikely that her cancer will come back,” says
Stephen Barrett, M.D., a board-certified general surgeon with
Southeast Georgia Physician Associates–General & Vascular Surgery, who performed Ms. Steiner’s biopsy and lumpectomy.
“Both doctors were fabulous,” Ms. Steiner says. “They
never rushed through anything. They were as wonderfully caring as they
were skilled, and they were very respectful of my opinions and what I
Ms. Steiner also has high praise for all the nurses who gave her consistent
practical and emotional support. Of special help was
Karen Crosby, R.N., BSN, navigator, Breast Care Center.
“Across the board, the quality of care at Southeast Georgia Health
System is exceptional,” Ms. Steiner emphasizes. “I came from
the Philadelphia area, where there are so many top-notch major hospitals,
and I would rank Southeast Georgia Health System right up there with any