Local Cancer Care Center Gets Approval for CyberKnife® Technology

BRUNSWICK, Georgia: June 21, 2010– Many cancer patients in southeast Georgia and the surrounding area will soon have the option of having their tumors treated using a painless, non-invasive procedure. The Georgia Department of Community Health has approved Southeast Georgia Health System’s Certificate of Need (CON) application to obtain CyberKnife®-the world’s first robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout the body without any cutting involved. Health System officials expect to have the system in place and operational by the end of November 2010.

During a CyberKnife procedure, a patient lies comfortably on the treatment table, which automatically positions the patient. Anesthesia is not required, as the procedure is painless and non-invasive. The treatment, which generally lasts between 30 and 60 minutes, typically involves the administration of between 100 and 200 radiation beams delivered from different directions, each lasting a few seconds. Prior to the delivery of each beam of radiation, the CyberKnife System simultaneously takes a pair of X-ray images and compares them to the original CT scan. This image-guided approach continually tracks, detects and corrects for any movement of the patient and tumor throughout the treatment to ensure precise targeting. The patient typically leaves the facility immediately upon completion of the procedure.

According to Health System board-certified radiation oncologist Timothy A. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., having CyberKnife technology in southeast Georgia will allow residents to receive the latest treatment options in cancer care locally and will allow the Health System to expand its cancer care services at both the Brunswick and Camden campuses. “Currently, there are only about 200 CyberKnife systems in the world and until our CON was approved, the only one in Georgia was at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta (north Georgia),” Jamieson says. “CyberKnife has a proven record of success with thousands of cancer patients worldwide and having this technology will give our patients yet another treatment option without having to travel away from home. CyberKnife uses the latest real-time imaging guidance to deliver beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy and can be used throughout the body on patients with inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or as an alternative to surgery.”

“CyberKnife treatment entails a team approach with close interaction in patient selection and treatment planning with not only the radiation oncologist but the surgeons, including urologists, neurosurgeons, thoracic surgeons, general surgeons, and pulmonologists. The CyberKnife is indeed a multi-specialty modality.” Health System board-certified thoracic surgeon Walter W. Scott, M.D., agrees. "The advent of the CyberKnife in Brunswick will bring the Cancer Care Center into the top tier of lung cancer treatment centers in the region,” Scottt says. “This is the cutting edge of stereotactic radiotherapy."

According to Jamieson, key advantages of the CyberKnife are:

  • Treats tumors anywhere in the body
  • Continually tracks, detects and corrects for tumor and patient movement throughout the treatment
  • Delivers high-dose radiation with sub-millimeter accuracy, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue
  • Treats tumors from virtually unlimited directions with flexible robotic mobility
  • Provides an option for patients diagnosed with previously inoperable or surgically complex tumors
  • Treats patients in as few as one to five visits
  • Improves patients quality of life during and after treatment
  • Non-invasive alternative to surgery
  • Pain free and requires no anesthesia
  • Minimal side effects
  • Outpatient procedure with little or no recovery time
  • Allows for an immediate return to normal activities

“Prostate and lung cancer treatments are the fastest growing use of CyberKnife in the country. Prostate cancer can be effectively and safely treated in only five short non-invasive treatments with excellent results. This allows patients to maintain their busy schedule with minimal interruption or side effects,” says Jamieson, who has previously used the technology at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.

“Having CyberKnife technology will make us feel much more confident in treating patients with prostate cancer without causing some of the side effects that result from some types of radiation therapy,” says David Kranc, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified urologist on the Brunswick Campus medical staff.

Being approved for this new technology will also greatly benefit some of the patients seen by neurosurgeons and neurologists. “Having CyberKnife represents a significant advance in the care of patient with neurological disorders, especially those with cancer of the brain or spine,” says Mark A. Gold, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon on the Brunswick Campus medial staff. “This will allow us to treat patients in our community who would otherwise have to travel out-of-town to receive this treatment.”

In addition to Jamieson, Health System board-certified radiation oncologists Kenyon Meadows, M.D., and Bruce Tripp, M.D., and radiation physicist David McNally will operate the CyberKnife Program. Additional members of the Cancer Care Center team will be undergoing further training prior to the system’s implementation.

Although getting this technology is a huge step forward for the cancer programs at the Health System, the real beneficiaries are area cancer patients and their families. “The reason we applied for CyberKnife was to bring a much-needed treatment option to cancer patients in our community,” says, Michelle P. Morris, assistant vice president responsible for the Cancer Care Center. “We are excited that the Department of Community Health agreed with us and saw that this technology should also be made readily available to patients throughout the southern part of our state and are looking forward to having CyberKnife in place and treating patients before the end of the year.”