SUMMIT, NJ - Overlook Medical Center has installed the CyberKnife® M6™ Series, the next generation CyberKnife Radiosurgery System, to treat tumors of the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas, and prostate.
The CyberKnife System allows radiation oncologists to deliver higher doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy in a shorter amount of treatment time compared to other radiation therapies. The extreme accuracy combined with high-quality dose distributions that do not harm surrounding tissues and structures, delivered over five treatments, reduces side effects and preserves patient quality of life.
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The CyberKnife M6 offers more options to patients and can treat larger tumors than the first generation models.
“CyberKnife is a brilliant technology that we have used for more than a decade,” said Louis Schwartz, MD, chair of radiation oncology at Overlook Medical Center and director of the hospital’s CyberKnife Center. “Now, we are excited to offer the latest model with the most advanced technological enhancements to our patients.”
In 2004, Overlook Medical Center opened the first CyberKnife Center in the Northeast U.S. to treat complex tumors and malformations of the brain and spine, in addition to lung, liver, pancreas, and prostate cancers.
“Very few places in the country can match Overlook’s experience and volume. We have treated more than 1,000 brain tumor patients, and we have treated the second-most prostate cases in the world,” said Schwartz.
The CyberKnife System’s continual image guidance software allows physicians to deliver high radiation doses with pinpoint accuracy, while automatically correcting for tumor movement. Since radiation beams adjust in real-time to the patient’s breathing cycle, there is no damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.
For this reason, a much higher dose of radiation can be sent to destroy the tiniest of tumors, because we are avoiding critical structures next to it,” added Dr. Schwartz. “This also means patients with conditions considered inoperable, such as a tumor next to the nerves that control vision, or next to the brain stem, can be candidates for treatment.”
Each treatment session lasts between 30 to 90 minutes for one to five days, depending on the location and type of tumor being treated, versus several weeks for traditional radiation therapy.
There are no incisions, no blood, no pain and no complications from anesthesia. Patients experience greater comfort because they can breathe normally during treatment and there is little or no recovery time. In fact, patients resume daily activities immediately following treatment.
The CyberKnife can strike the tumor with radiation from 150 different angles and thousands of precise points, an improvement on other therapies that attack lesions from far fewer positions.
“The tumor is bombarded by radiation from multiple sides, which is more efficient to destroy it,” said Dr. Schwartz. “Imagine a golf ball with the small indentations on its surface, and sending radiation to each indentation, rather than from the top only.”
The most noticeable benefit to brain patients is the lack of a head frame during treatments. All older treatment methods, such as GammaKnife, require the patient to wear a metal head frame that gets bolted to the skull, and can be very painful.
“This is one of the greatest advances with the CyberKnife; I don’t have to cause the patient more pain because of a head frame needed to stop patient movement,” says Dr. Schwartz. “It also expands radiation oncology options to children; with some sedation, we can even treat pediatric patients.”
The CyberKnife also provides options to neurosurgeons.
“With the pinpoint accuracy of the CyberKnife, we can treat tumors on the spine,” said neurosurgeon Yaron Moshel, MD, co-director of the Brain Tumor Center of New Jersey at Overlook Medical Center’s Atlantic Neuroscience Institute, “and reach abnormal tangles of blood vessels in the brain.”
“The CyberKnife avoids the risks related to surgery including infection, anesthesia, scarring, and post-operative bleeding,” added Dr. Moshel.
“Traditionally we’re talking about a little round beam of radiation, like a pencil. Now imagine I told you to take a flashlight and use the beams to reconstruct the shape of the tumor—that’s hard to do. But CyberKnife uses laser beams to create a hologram, so we can shape the beam to match the exact shape of the tumor. We can live-track the tumor in a 3-D state, make adjustments, and even pause if necessary.”
The ability to spare healthy tissue is essential to preserving quality of life, especially when treating brain tumors, says Moshel. “In many places, radiating the entire brain is still the standard of care for treating brain tumors, but this often leads to dementia and other problems. By sparing healthy brain tissue, we’re able to avoid these issues. It makes a huge difference in quality of life."
CyberKnife is the biggest advancement in prostate cancer treatment in a decade. According to research studies at Stanford University Medical Center, CyberKnife treatment is as effective as surgery for the treatment of prostate cancer. And, because there is no cutting, the risk of incontinence and impotence is minimal.
“At Overlook Medical Center, we have a ten-year, 95 percent success rate in treating prostate cancer with CyberKnife,” said Schwartz. “That’s a very high number in cancer treatment.”
The appropriate treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the biopsy Gleason score, PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) at diagnosis, age of the patient, overall health of the patient, and patient preference.
In August 2009, Driscoll -- whose family and grandchildren live in Summit, went to urologist Dr. Thomas Gianis, who, after tests, diagnosed he had both prostate cancer and kidney cancer. The kidney cancer took precedence over the prostate cancer, Driscoll said, so first he had the right kidney "successfully removed" on August 9. It took a total of four days from diagnosis to surgery.
Dr. Gianis reminded him to have his prostate looked at and explained his many treatment options. Driscoll did some unofficial research by talking to his golf and hoops buddies."There were men who had prostatectomies, others had seed implants and everyone had different experiences." At the same time, there were a lot of advertisements for radiosurgery, so there were a lot of different choices, he said.
After doing his research, he met with Dr. Gianis and told him he wanted to have CyberKnife treatments. Dr. Gianis told him Overlook had the CyberKnife device and Dr. Louis Schwartz, the chief of radiation oncology and medical director of the CyberKnife Center at Overlook, “had been doing this for five or more years and had a good track record," Driscoll said. After he announced his decision, "Dr. Gianis said to me, 'If you were my father, it's the recommendation I would have made,'" Driscoll said.
Driscoll came to Overlook Medical Center to have the cast made for the treatment and met the two nurses who would be part of the treatment process. "They were phenomenal. They even came in during a snow storm one day," Driscoll said. He had five CyberKnife treatments over a period of seven days.
As for the results, "I couldn't be better, if I wrote the rules. Cancer hasn't slowed me down," said Driscoll.
“The CyberKnife M6 enhances our state-of-the-art oncology and neuroscience services,” said Alan Lieber, president and CEO, Overlook Medical Center. “As the longest running CyberKnife Center in the region, I am pleased our physicians can offer their patients years of experience matched with the latest advancement in radiosurgery technology.”
In addition, patients benefit from supportive services, including patient navigators, social work, physical therapists, nutritional counseling, genetic counseling and integrative medicine services. Many support services are offered to help patients and their families cope with illness and cancer.
“Knowing we have CyberKnife within our network of care empowers us to change our approach to treatment and care,” added Schwartz.