Nov. 16, 2017 – Although it kills cancer cells, radiation can take
a toll on patients. The therapy often requires weeks of hospital visits
that disrupt work and life, and can leave patients struggling with fatigue
and other side effects.
But now there’s a new technology that delivers radiation in a matter
of days—with better accuracy and fewer side effects.
Southeast Georgia Health System is the only center in Georgia to offer
the CyberKnife® M6™ Series, a robotic radiation delivery system.
The M6 Series, featuring enhanced precision that shortens treatment times,
has replaced the original CyberKnife technology that the Health System
has used since 2011. The Health System began treating patients with the
new CyberKnife M6 on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.
Despite its intimidating name, CyberKnife treatment is noninvasive. The
system uses real-time imaging: The technology automatically tracks the
targeted area and projects beams of intense energy directly to cancerous cells.
Because conventional radiation is less accurate, and can sometimes damage
healthy tissues and organs surrounding the tumor, it must be administered
in lower doses over time.
“CyberKnife offers sub-millimeter precision, which allows for higher
doses and substantially shortened treatment duration,” says
Timothy A. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of the Health
System’s Cancer Care Centers and CyberKnife program.
As David McNally, Ph.D. DABR, manager, Chief Medical Physicist explains,
the enhanced precision of the new CyberKnife M6 comes from the fact it
offers new multi-leaf collimation (MLC). The new MLC features a rectangular
head that uses 26 small, thin leaf pairs to shape and highly conform the
beams of radiation shape to non-spherical tumors and with tighter margins.
“The MLC, along with the iris and fixed collimators, allow treatment
of more tumor sites than previously,” McNally says. “The new
engineering allows for greater accuracy with increased patient protection
and safety parameters.”
In cases of prostate cancer, for example, CyberKnife radiation can be delivered
in five consecutive days, whereas traditional radiation might require
nine weeks of treatment. McNally adds that treatment times have also decreased
with the CyberKnife M6. The average treatment time is now 20 to 25 minutes,
compared to 45 minutes to an hour previously.
“It’s a short amount of time, with minimal disruption to the
patient’s daily activities and work,” Jamieson says. “Not
only is it convenient, it’s very effective.”
Greater accuracy also means fewer side effects. Prostate cancer patients
typically experience fewer urinary and potency issues when treated with
CyberKnife, while lung cancer patients can preserve pulmonary function
when healthy areas of the lung are protected from radiation.
The Health System Cancer Care Center uses CyberKnife to treat prostate,
lung, brain, and liver cancers, as well as acoustic neuroma, recurrent
disease and metastatic disease. CyberKnife also shows promise for early-stage
breast cancer, along with other tumors that are inoperable or complex.
Jamieson expects the new machine will be a regional draw for cancer patients.
The Health System is already one of the busiest CyberKnife centers in
the country, treating about 300 patients annually.
For more information about Southeast Georgia Health System Cancer Care
Centers or the CyberKnife program, visit
sghs.org/cancer or call 1-855-ASK-SGHS (1-855-275-7447).