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Why Radiosurgery Means More Cancer Treatment Options

April is National Cancer Control Month. Every year, in the United States (since 1938), we dedicate this time to raise awareness about the factors that can cause, control and prevent cancer.

Annually, the President takes time to draft a proclamation for Cancer Control Month. President Obama raises many interesting and relevant issues in relation to cancer control. One that caught my attention was his emphasis on how new technology should be embraced and be made available to all.

 “Expanding on today’s progress also means investing in tomorrow’s breakthroughs. My Administration is committed to supporting the kind of medical research that has unlocked decades of new therapies and promising interventions.”

skull radiosurgery

Radiosurgery (sometimes referred to as “CyberKnife”) is one of these new breakthrough therapies. It helps to control, treat and subsequently, improve the quality of life of a cancer suffer.

Dr. John Lipani, leading neurosurgeon explains the benefits of radiosurgery in this video:

What Is Radiosurgery?

Radiosurgery, contrary to what the name suggests, isn’t a type of surgery. It is a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. Radiosurgery is actually used as an alternative to traditional surgery, treating cancer and non-cancerous tumors in the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney.

What are the benefits of radiosurgery over traditional surgery or radiation therapy?

 The benefit of radiosurgery over traditional surgery is that the patient does not need to have an operation. Their risk of developing complications post procedure is greatly reduced, as the body is not exposed to the bacteria and trauma associated with surgery.

The benefit of radiosurgery over traditional radiation therapy is that it has pinpoint accuracy when delivering radiation to the tumor. Healthy tissue surrounding the tumor is spared, causing fewer side effects than radiation therapy. Radiosurgery can target the tumor with this accuracy, as it has image-guided software which can be adjusted to patient and tumor movement. As it has increased accuracy, a lower dose of radiation can be used – which subsequently causes fewer side effects such as nausea, vomiting and hair loss.

Who benefits from radiosurgery treatment?

Radiosurgery offers people who are not candidates for surgery a chance to control and treat their cancer. There are many reasons why a person may not be suitable for surgery (such as their age or other pre-existing medical conditions).

Currently there are two hundred and twenty two CyberKnife systems installed worldwide, in private and public hospitals. It is a unique and new method of cancer control and treatment that’s constantly gaining popularity in healthcare.

Because CyberKnife’s radiation beam technology is so new and advanced it can be expensive for hospitals and clinics to invest in (which explains why such an incredible technology hasn’t taken over as every oncologist’s go-to treatment option). But as research continues to report the benefits of radiosurgery, we can expect to see radiosurgery catch on and start to become a more central part of treating cancerous tumors.

As a registered nurse and health writer, Robyn Nazar is committed to empowering patients with knowledge about their health and the choices available to them. With her clinical background in women's health, obstetrics, neonatal care, cardiology and general practice, Robyn strives to connect with readers on a wide variety of health topics. Today, Robyn's online following has grown into a large community of patients and health professionals who regularly engage with her on the web. In addition to her own blog:The Health Update Robyn also contributes to health blog Modern Health. Robyn lives with her husband and their new baby girl.

2 Comments

  1. S. Sapareto

    May 1, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Radiosurgery is NOT new and has been around for several decades. It is NOT sometimes referred to as Cyberknife. Cyberknife is only one method of delivering Radiosurgery. There are probably well over 1000 sites worldwide that can provide Radiosurgery. Only a small number are Cyberknife. Sounds a lot like an Advertisement

    • Andreas

      May 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Fully agree. This is an advertisement containing several false claims. Radiosurgery was developed more than 60 years ago and was introduced commercially with the Gammaknife system. So it’s definitely not new. Not even Cyberknife is new. The first version came more than 20 years ago. Radiosurgery is never referred to as Cyberknife. Cyberknife (made by the Accuray company) is just one out of several commercial systems that can provide radiosurgery treatments. Others are e.g. the Gammaknife system (from Elekta) and the Novalis TX system (from Brainlab/Varian).

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