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What should I know? Frequently Asked Questions

What is stereotactic radiosurgery, and how is CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiosurgery different?

During stereotactic radiosurgery, high doses of focused radiation beams are delivered from outside of your body to destroy a tumor or lesion inside of your body. It does not remove the tumor or lesion. Instead, it destroys tumor cells or stops tumor growth. Traditional stereotactic radiosurgery on tumors of the head use an uncomfortable metal frame that is bolted to your skull to target the treatment. Because of the need for the metal frame, radiosurgery could only treat tumors in your head—until now. CyberKnife is an entirely new approach to stereotactic radiosurgery. It can deliver targeted radiation to anywhere in your body with sub-millimeter accuracy, thus protecting the surrounding healthy tissue. It offers you all of the advantages of radiosurgery, but without the need for a painful metal head frame. CyberKnife can give you surgical results without surgery or incisions—that means no scalpels, no blood, no pain, and virtually no recovery time.


How can I find out more about CyberKnife?

Call 877.552.9237 today and find out if Saint Elizabeth CyberKnife Center is right for you.


How does the CyberKnife system work?

Using x-ray cameras and highly advanced computer technology, the CyberKnife finds the tumor in your body. A computer program evaluates the shape and location of the tumor. It then determines exactly how each of 1,200 or more beams of radiation should target the tumor for best results. An x-ray source on the CyberKnife's robotic arm delivers concentrated beams of radiation to the tumor from multiple angles without damaging your healthy surrounding tissue. The range of motion of the robotic arm gives it the flexibility to reach tumor sites not accessible by other stereotactic radiosurgery methods. That means CyberKnife can treat tumors that were once considered inoperable. And because of CyberKnife's accuracy, lesions that have previously undergone the maximum allowed dose of radiation can be treated. The CyberKnife continually checks and adjusts for your movement during treatment. If you cough, sneeze, or shift your weight during your session, radiation will still be delivered to the correct site in your body. Because the CyberKnife has pinpoint accuracy, it can deliver higher doses of radiation to treat tumors. And because CyberKnife can deliver higher doses of radiation, that means fewer treatment sessions for you.


How is CyberKnife different from other stereotactic radiosurgery systems like Gamma Knife?

Because of the flexibility of the robotic arm, the CyberKnife system is able to reach areas of your body that Gamma Knife and other radiosurgery systems can't. CyberKnife can be used anywhere in your body, while the other systems can only treat the head and neck. The CyberKnife is able to locate the position of the tumor within your body without the use of a painful head frame. And, the CyberKnife monitors and adjusts for your movement during treatment.


How does the Saint Elizabeth CyberKnife Center stand up next to other forms of treatment?


Saint Elizabeth CyberKnife


Other Cancer Treatments

CyberKnife offers a relaxing and pain-free procedure. No scalpels, no chemicals, no discomfort.


Other treatments can bring on the pain and discomfort of surgery and/or extreme fatigue and nausea.

After your treatment, which takes 30-90 minutes, you are free to go. You will probably feel good enough to resume your daily activities right away.


Hospital stays and/or extended periods of rest are often required.

You are awake throughout your entire pain-free session. Because CyberKnife adjusts to your body movements, no uncomfortable metal head frame is necessary. We encourage you to bring your own music to enjoy during the treatment.

During Your Procedure

You may be put under anesthesia or have your head shaved and bolted into a metal frame to minimize movement.

After your CyberKnife treatment, you are free to go home. Most patients are done with treatment after 1-5 sessions. No incisions mean a greatly reduced risk of infection.


You may have a hospital stay with multiple visits after discharge. There is also a raised risk of infection.

CyberKnife doesn't damage healthy surrounding tissue and has an unlimited range of motion, so it can treat many tumors that were once considered untreatable.

Inoperable Cancers

Some cancers are too risky to operate on or can't be reached by other forms of stereotactic radiosurgery.


Is CyberKnife covered by insurance?

Stereotactic radiosurgery treatments, including CyberKnife, are usually covered by Medicare and most private insurances. You should check with your insurance provider for more details.


What are the benefits for me as a patient?

With CyberKnife, you will have a much better quality of life compared with other cancer care methods. Treatment is simple and pain free. We encourage you to bring your favorite music to enjoy during your sessions. We can even reduce your anxieties with mild sedation. Afterward, there is very little recovery time—you could go straight to lunch or back to work after your appointment.


What can I expect during CyberKnife treatment?

Treatment follows these steps that can be performed on the same day or on separate days:

Intake process: During the intake process, we review your medical records to make sure that CyberKnife is the right choice for you. Any information you can provide your doctors and nurses at this time will speed the process along.

Consultation: During your first visit to the Saint Elizabeth CyberKnife Center, you will meet with your nurse, your radiation oncologist and your surgeon. You and your family will have your questions answered in a comforting and caring environment. Your Saint Elizabeth providers will explain to you the pros and cons of choosing CyberKnife, and they will explain to you step-by-step what will happen during your procedure.

Treatment setup: This step helps to determine your exact course of treatment. You will be fitted for a soft, flexible mesh mask or body mold to help minimize movement during your treatment. This is a painless process. Treatment of certain kinds of tumors outside of the head may require the insertion of tiny metal markers called fiducials. These small markers will help identify the location of cancer cells. A CT scan then shows your doctor the exact location, size, and shape of your tumor.

Treatment planning: After reviewing your CT scan, your doctor puts the information into advanced CyberKnife software that calculates the number, direction, and intensity of radiation beams that will be used during your treatment. The CyberKnife develops a treatment plan that is specific to your unique needs. You do not need to be present during this step. Your doctor will communicate with you about your treatment plan.

Treatment delivery: Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and no jewelry the day of your appointment. Feel free to bring your favorite music to listen to. Make sure you bring someone to drive you home, as we may give you a mild sedative to make you more comfortable. We will first position you on the table and secure your flexible mesh mask/body mold that was made during your treatment setup phase. Because the treatment is painless, you will be awake throughout your entire procedure, which usually lasts anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on the complexity of the tumor. After your procedure, you are free to go home. Depending on the course of treatment your doctor has established, you may have to return for more sessions. Most patients have anywhere from two to five sessions with CyberKnife.

Follow-up: After your treatment, follow-up imaging and doctor's visits will determine your progress.


What can the CyberKnife treat?

Saint Elizabeth CyberKnife Center treats tumors of the: