Second Machine Will Expand Use to Cancers Anywhere in the Body
Washington, DC – Georgetown University Hospital was the first center on the East Coast and the 6th in the nation to get the CyberKnife in 2002. Now, with the second highest caseload volume in the United States, Georgetown’s world-renowned team will start treating patients with a second CyberKnife in mid-July 2007.
“The CyberKnife really exceeded our expectations, both in its effectiveness and in how many cancers we can treat with it,” said Gregory Gagnon, MD, CyberKnife program director. When we first got the machine five years ago, it was used to treat “inoperable” tumors of the head neck and spine. Thanks to the addition of the Synchrony software we added in 2004 and advances in the technology itself, we are treating cancers of the lung, liver and pancreas. This second machine will help us go beyond that to begin treating cancers of the breast and prostate as well.”
CyberKnife’s robot uses a crossfire technique to deliver as many as 1400 highly pinpointed and concentrated beams of radiation, at virtually any angle, to the patient’s tumor. Because of the way it’s delivered, unlike traditional radiation, CyberKnife radiation largely avoids dose to normal tissue and so is unlikely to harm nearby healthy tissues or organs.
Other benefits to the patient include no pain, no blood loss, no sedation, no scalpel, no recovery time and very few side effects. Studies have shown that stereotactic radiosurgery is also less expensive and results in fewer complications than traditional brain and spine surgery and that its outcomes are comparable to surgery for malignant brain tumors.
On the day of treatment, the patient lies on a table and wears a custom-fit mesh facemask or body immobilizer. There are pedestal-like x-ray cameras, or image detectors, on each side of the patient. The image detectors receive signals from ceiling-mounted x-ray sources that tell the robotic arm where to move. The robotic arm, which can move in six degrees of freedom, then moves the linear accelerator, which delivers the radiation with the precision of less than a millimeter. After a treatment that lasts about an hour per lesion, the patient can get up and go home the same day.
To house CyberKnife #2, the Georgetown University Hospital spent the past year renovating an area of the Bles building to create a 2,500 square foot area to accommodate the five foot thick walls, ceiling and floor that are required. New doctors’ offices, dressing rooms and waiting areas have also been added.
“More than half of our cases involve tumors outside of the brain, unlike other stereotactic radiosurgery systems that only treat the brain,” said Dr. Gagnon. “Since March of 2002 we have treated more than 1800 patients from Italy to Florida and right here in DC who have had their tumors “zapped” with wonderful results and very few side effects. I know this additional machine will help us to treat even more people who can benefit from this technology.”
CyberKnife’s manufacturer, Accuray Incorporated (www.accuray.com), estimates that the machine has treated more than 30,000 patients worldwide.
About Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Lombardi is one of only 39 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to http://lombardi.georgetown.edu.