Ever heard of surgery which is not really a surgery? Can you believe surgery can be done without administering anaesthesia and without a scalpel? Isn’t it unbelievable that a patient who undergoes such a surgery is discharged soon after?!! The Cyberknife treatment is one such treatment.
Cyberknife treatment is a relatively new-age, non-invasive and painless radiosurgery or stereotactic radiosurgery. It is the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery that is designed to treat tumours. In this type of treatment, high doses of precisely targeted radiation are administered to destroy malignant or benign tumours or lesions. The treatment is used to treat cancerous and non-cancerous tumours in the lung, prostate, brain, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney. The Cyberknife treatment is so accurate that it does minimum damage to the tissues around the tumour or lesion.
Cyberknife surgery is performed by a highly sophisticated device with minimal human intervention. The device uses a robotic arm to perform the surgery. The flexibility of the robotic arm makes it possible to treat areas which cannot be otherwise treated by other radiosurgery techniques.
Being non-invasive, no anaesthesia is required and there is no blood loss either. The treatment is performed on an outpatient basis with each treatment lasting between 30-90 minutes. The number of treatments varies depending on the tumour size, location and shape. Usually, one to five daily sessions is required under the treatment.
The treatment is recommended to patients who cannot undergo standard surgical procedures if;
The location is inaccessible or because the size of the tumour is big.
The patient’s health is a matter of concern.
The patient has undergone previous surgery or radiotherapy.
The patient is not keen on undergoing surgery.
The treatment is a standard procedure to treat trigeminal neuralgia, acoustic neuromas arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Trigeminal neuralgia occurs when there is inflammation of the trigeminal nerve thus causing acute facial pain. This condition usually occurs in people aged over 60. While the cause of the condition is unknown, it may result if the nerve is compressed by adjacent blood vessels, aneurysms or tumours.
Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumour that develops on the balance (vestibular) and hearing or auditory (cochlear) nerves leading from the inner ear to brain. The pressure on the nerve resulting from such a tumour can lead to hearing loss and imbalance. In advanced stages of acoustic neuroma, it may affect the nerves of the cerebellum and brainstem and increase pressure in the brain.
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) occur when there is an abnormal connection between the veins and arteries. This then affects the body’s ability to circulate blood. The condition is usually pre-existing. Such malformations can begin anywhere in the body, some develop in the brain and spinal cord region, thus causing seizures and headaches.
Da Vinci Robotic Surgery: This is a minimally invasive robotic surgery for complex medical conditions. The da Vinci Robotic surgery is an effective, safer and comfortable option for patients with prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and gynaecological disorders. It is also used to treat benign conditions including diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Cyberknife VSI Robotic Radiosurgery System: The Cyberknife VSI Robotic Radiosurgery System is the world’s first and only Robotic Radiosurgery that treats tumours throughout the body without any incision. This is a painless alternative to inoperable or complex surgeries.
Side-Effects Of Cyberknife Treatment
Some of the common side-effects of the treatment are :
Skin irritation or rash at the site of radiation delivery
Mouth going dry or insufficient production of saliva
Frequent urination with burning or sore feeling.
Problem-specific to the area being treated
The clinical outcomes of studies on the success rate of Cyberknife radiosurgery differ from case to case. The success rate of this treatment depends on various factors such as the sample size, the duration of the study amongst others. In the case of prostate cancer, the success rate was 98.6%. While in the case of lung cancer, the three-year survival rate after stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) was 55.8% as per a study. In a study of 75 patients with liver cancer, 89.8% of patients reported no progression of cancer beyond the liver after two years following treatment. Overall survival at one-year follow-up was 78.5%, which dropped to 50.4% at the end of a two-year follow-up.
One important thing to observe is that movement/sensation of one part of the body will be affected generally.
Some of the common symptoms of cancer in men and women to watch out for are:
Nagging cough or blood in saliva
Change in bowel habit
Blood in stool
Severely low blood count
Lump in breast or discharge
Lumps in the testicles
Change in urination
Noticeable change in a wart or mole
Persistent lumps or swollen glands
Cost of Treatment
The Cyberknife treatment in India is available for the US $10,000 – US $11,000 which translates into Rs 5,00,000 without any compromise in quality. The same treatment is available in the US for $25,000-$65,000 which is way too expensive. Hence, India is the preferred choice for Cyberknife treatment amongst patients from
Treatment Options in India
The Cyberknife treatment is available at the following hospitals in India
Apollo Hospitals, Multi-state
Artemis Hospital, Gurugram
Health Care Global, Bengaluru
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai
The Gujarat Research & Cancer Institute, Ahmedabad
Gamma Knife Brain Surgery
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an effective alternative to open surgery and a very precise surgery to treat lesions in the brain. It is a specialised form of radiation therapy that focuses intense beams of gamma rays to treat lesions in the brain. The surgery is painless and nearly silent.
It is also effective in treating tumours and blood vessel malformations. Surgeons and radio-oncologists modify the dosage for each of the treatments differently.
Some of the primary brain tumours treated using Gamma Knife surgery are:
Acoustic neuroma/Vestibular Schwannoma
Glomus jugulare tumour
The Gamma Knife surgery is a superior alternative to open surgery given its effectiveness and success rate. However, it too has its limitations. Some of the drawbacks of this treatment are as follows:
The treatment is not recommended for pregnant women.
There are immediate side effects such as fatigue, swelling and soreness of the scalp, headaches, reddening and irritation of skin within the treatment areas, nausea and seizure.
Delayed side-effects of the treatment include hair loss, localised brain swelling and numbness in the face.
Tomotherapy is another variant of radiation therapy to treat a wide variety of cancers. This therapy integrates imaging and treatment delivery to precisely target a wide variety of cancers. Here, radiation therapy is given slice by slice.
For those afflicted with malignant cancers or benign tumours and are looking to avoid surgery, it is indeed heartening to learn that there is an alternative. The Cyberknife treatment is then the option available.