Julie from Rozelle, New South Wales, Australia asked:

Is CyberKnife an effective treatment for cancer?

CyberKnife machine

I have read about CyberKnife in online forums, is it true that it can cure cancer?

Our answer

“CyberKnife” is a type of machine that delivers stereotactic radiotherapy or radiosurgery. The stereotactic technique is an important alternative to conventional surgery or radiotherapy, especially for patients who cannot undergo surgery. It can also help in certain circumstances with organ preservation and in some types of cancer, deliver outcomes as good as or better than conventional radiotherapy. Like standard radiotherapy, stereotactic treatment delivers high doses of radiation, however the radiation is aimed very precisely at the tumour from different angles. CyberKnife is one of a number of technologies using the stereotactic technique. It produces radiation from a small linear accelerator mounted on a robotic arm, which allows the energy to be directed at any part of the body from any direction. CyberKnife has been used to treat benign tumours, malignant tumours and other medical conditions, with trials reportedly underway in prostate, lung and liver cancer. While the CyberKnife system has been used internationally for a number of years, there is no research to show whether CyberKnife is more or less effective than other forms of stereotactic radiotherapy. This is a relatively new treatment with limited research, so there is little information about potential side-effects and long-term effects. Some research indicates it could increase the risk of ulceration or death of nearby normal tissues (called necrosis). And like the other forms of stereotactic techniques of radiotherapy, there is a large amount of work involved to ensure the quality of treatment. Hence it is not suited for everyone or for all tumours. In January 2013, it was reported that Australia’s first CyberKnife system would be installed at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Western Australia.

This page was last updated on: February 4, 2013

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