According to the American Cancer Society, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetime - and of those cases, one in 39 will prove to be fatal. However, with early detection, prostate cancer is very treatable, with both surgical and nonsurgical interventions.
And one of the most promising nonsurgical treatments emerging as a new option for prostate cancer patients is called CyberKnife®. This treatment uses targeted beams of radiation to the prostate, sparing the surrounding healthy tissue - including critical structures like the bladder and rectum.
But how does CyberKnife® benefit our patients?
Fewer Treatments and Side Effects with CyberKnife®
The MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute was the first in the mid-Atlantic region to offer CyberKnife®, and is one of the most experienced in the world to use this technology. And Sean Collins, MD, a radiation oncologist who is a leading expert in the procedure, says one of the most significant benefits of CyberKnife® is the reduced number of treatments required.
“For many men, the CyberKnife® requires only five treatments instead of the standard course of radiation therapy that generally requires up to 40 treatments and lasts eight to nine weeks,” says Dr. Collins.
He also notes that side effects are similar to those a patient might experience with traditional radiation therapy, such as bladder and bowel urgency, impotence and rectal bleeding. “However, we know that quality of life is a big issue for prostate cancer patients, and with the CyberKnife®, we typically have fewer side effects—both short and long term.”
“I even hit golf balls in the days between my treatments,” said Neal Bobys, 68, who was the 1,000th CyberKnife® under. Dr. Collins. “I’ve had no pain from the treatment at all. Nothing about my daily life has changed because I have prostate cancer. I now look forward to getting on with my active life and improving my golf game.”
CyberKnife® vs. Traditional Radiation Therapy
In your body, prostates move and adjust with rectal and bladder filling. To account for this range of motion, conventional radiation therapy requires the use of large treatment margins. To protect the adjacent bladder and rectum, this treatment for prostate cancer is given five days per week over eight weeks.
CyberKnife® is unique in that it tracts prostate motion and adjust for it allowing for smaller treatment margins. It’s also more precise, given that it can deliver the required amount of radiation from hundreds of directions.
“Another benefit to CyberKnife® is that studies show that higher doses of radiation decrease the risk of the prostate cancer coming back.”
In fact, a recent study of CyberKnife® - in which the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital was one of over 20 participating centers - has shown promising results over longer periods of time, with high rates of biochemical control and low high-grade toxicity. In addition, it's proven as highly convenient for patients.
"But the important thing about this study is that the patients are actually followed for five years," says Dr. Collins. "And in that timeframe, we still see a very low rate of late toxicity with adequate follow-up. For our patients, that means, instead of going for eight weeks of daily radiation an hour a day, Monday through Friday, you can actually get your treatment done in five treatments over one to two weeks."
You Need a Team in Your Corner
CyberKnife® is a new chapter of hope for prostate cancer patients - because it doesn’t matter if you have a new, early-stage diagnosis, have already undergone radiation therapy or are too frail for surgery. CyberKnife® is an option worth exploring.