Why a Growing Population of Patients with Brain Metastases Are Candidates for CyberKnife®
Radiation has long been a fundamental therapy to shrink or eliminate brain tumors … and help prevent them from coming back.
While traditional whole-brain radiation therapy remains an important tool – primarily for patients with a large number of lesions in the brain and aggressive systemic disease – a growing number of patients with brain metastases are now being treated with CyberKnife®, which delivers highly targeted stereotactic radiation with sub-millimeter precision.
Using CyberKnife to Safely Eradicate More Disease Targets
CyberKnife has completely changed the way metastatic brain tumors are treated by administering radiation only where it’s needed – and nowhere it’s not. Not only is CyberKnife a highly-effective therapy for the treatment of brain metastases, its precision spares healthy brain tissue from radiation exposure and the neurocognitive damage it can cause. This is a major advantage compared to whole-brain radiation, which was historically used as a standard of care first-line therapy.
“In the past we were highly selective about which patients to offer this treatment to, only targeting up to three or four areas. Now, with better systemic treatments and longer survival, we are pushing the envelope and safely eradicating many more disease targets, while significantly reducing risk for patients,” explains Joana S. Emmolo, MD, a radiation oncologist and director of radiation oncology at Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center. “Overall, CyberKnife is helping our patients live longer and live better.”
CyberKnife is often used postoperatively in patients who have metastatic lesions excised.
“After tumors are surgically removed from the brain, we often recommend CyberKnife as an additional course of treatment to help eliminate any residual tumor cells that are lingering around the margins, minimizing the chances of cancer recurring in that area,” Dr. Emmolo continues.
CyberKnife is also used to treat patients who have previously had radiation therapy targeting the brain. Normal tissues have a “lifetime limit” of how much radiation they can safely see before damage occurs. In patients who have had previous whole-brain radiotherapy, the CyberKnife radiosurgery system can be used to safely treat new metastases that arise despite prior therapy.
Additionally, CyberKnife is utilized to manage primary brain tumors that recur in patients who have previously seen high doses of radiation in the past.
“This allows us to offer patients an additional option for therapy in a location, and at a time, where few good options exist,” adds Dr. Emmolo.
While outcomes for individual patients vary depending on a number of factors, CyberKnife is more than 90% effective in treating targeted tumors. What’s more, its pinpoint accuracy preserves cognitive function and for most patients, has little to no effect on their quality of life.
“CyberKnife is generally very well-tolerated by patients. For the most part, people tell me they go home after treatment feeling exactly the same way they did coming in,” notes Dr. Emmolo. “Having that normalcy and enabling people to maintain their independence goes an incredibly long way."
- Noninvasive with no incision
- Pain-free with no anesthesia
- Usually a single outpatient treatment
- No down time or recovery
- Minimal side effects, if any at all
- Highly effective with proven positive outcomes
- Comfortable, fast and flexible