Colorectal Cancer CyberKnife® VSI™ Robotic Radiosurgery System
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Robotic Radiosurgery for Colorectal Cancer
The CyberKnife® VSI™ Robotic Radiosurgery System is a highly innovative and sophisticated radiation therapy delivery system that is providing new hope to colorectal cancer patients who have metastatic or locally recurrent disease. In some cases, these patients may have already received their maximum dosage of standard radiation. With CyberKnife, we can treat tumors that move as a patient breathes in and out with remarkable precision, while avoiding nearby critical structures.
How CyberKnife Is Used to Treat Colorectal Cancer
First, colorectal cancer patients who are candidates for CyberKnife treatment undergo a brief, outpatient procedure to place fiducial markers (grain-sized seeds) into and around their tumors, using CT or ultrasound guidance. In some cases, a tiny camera that is passed through the digestive system may be used. The markers serve as reference points and help the tracking system determine the exact location of the tumor at all times during treatment.
Patients who have metastatic tumors in the upper portion of their colon may also be fitted with a special vest to be worn during CyberKnife treatment. The vest helps the system compare chest motion and breathing patterns with tumor position. Ultimately, the information the vest collects for each patient aids the system in tracking the tumor’s motion as each beam of radiation is delivered.
Prior to treatment, patients undergo several CT scans to determine the exact size, shape and location of the tumor. An MRI or other imaging test may also be taken to fully visualize the tumor and nearby anatomy.
After the tests have been completed, the imaging data is digitally transferred to the CyberKnife System’s treatment planning software, so that our radiation oncologists and medical physicists can plan radiation treatment unique to each patient. The plan enables us to match the desired radiation dose to the exact tumor location, and identify critical structures to avoid.
Once radiation treatment planning is complete, patients return to the hospital for treatment. Patients wear their normal clothes for treatment. Prior to the start of each treatment session, they put on their special vests (if needed) and are comfortably positioned on the system’s cushioned table.
As soon as a radiation therapist has ensured the patient is positioned correctly and is ready, CyberKnife treatment begins. The system’s computer-controlled robot slowly moves around the patient, delivering radiation directly to the colorectal tumor. The system’s software and tracking system confirms the location of the tumor and continually tracks its movement, all in real-time. Digital images of the fiducial markers and the information obtained from the vest aid in the process, helping ensure the system follows the tumor as it moves and pinpoints radiation to the tumor as accurately and safely as possible.
Advantages of CyberKnife for Colorectal Cancer
Unlike standard radiation therapy, in which low doses of radiation are delivered over weeks and months, CyberKnife can treat a colorectal tumor with extreme accuracy and high doses of radiation over the course of about a week. Each treatment session lasts between 30 to 90 minutes.
CyberKnife treatment may be an alternative to surgery for patients who have metastatic or locally recurrent colorectal cancer. It may also be a treatment option for patients who have previously received their maximum dosage of standard radiation.
Other potential advantages of CyberKnife treatment include:
- Less harm to healthy surrounding tissue and organs
- May spare nearby critical structures
- Patients breathe normally during treatment
- Less discomfort during treatment
- Shorter treatment times
- Faster recovery time
- Quicker return to normal activities
Next Topic: TheraSphere® for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer