November 16, 2015, Summit, NJ – Overlook Medical Center announced today the installation of the CyberKnife® M6™ Series, the next generation CyberKnife Radiosurgery System, to treat tumors of the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas and prostate. The CyberKnife M6 is a non-invasive radiation therapy option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for an alternative to surgery or traditional radiation therapy.
The CyberKnife System allows radiation oncologists to deliver higher doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy in a shorter amount of treatment time compared to other radiation therapies. The extreme accuracy combined with high-quality dose distributions that do not harm surrounding tissues and structures, delivered over five treatments, reduces side effects and preserves patient quality of life.
The CyberKnife M6 offers more options to patients and can treat larger tumors than the first generation models.
“CyberKnife is a brilliant technology that we have used for more than a decade,” said Louis Schwartz, MD, chair of radiation oncology at Overlook Medical Center and director of the hospital’s CyberKnife Center. “Now, we are excited to offer the latest model with the most advanced technological enhancements to our patients.”
In 2004, Overlook Medical Center opened the first CyberKnife Center in the Northeast U.S. to treat complex tumors and malformations of the brain and spine, in addition to lung, liver, pancreas, and prostate cancers.
“Very few places in the country can match Overlook’s experience and volume. We have treated more than 1,000 brain tumor patients, and we have treated the second-most prostate cases in the world,” said Schwartz.
How it works
The CyberKnife System’s continual image guidance software allows physicians to deliver high radiation doses with pinpoint accuracy, while automatically correcting for tumor movement. Since radiation beams adjust in real-time to the patient’s breathing cycle, there is no damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.
For this reason, a much higher dose of radiation can be sent to destroy the tiniest of tumors, because we are avoiding critical structures next to it,” added Dr. Schwartz. “This also means patients with conditions considered inoperable, such as a tumor next to the nerves that control vision, or next to the brain stem, can be candidates for treatment.”Each treatment session lasts between 30 to 90 minutes for one to five days, depending on the location and type of tumor being treated, versus several weeks for traditional radiation therapy.There are no incisions, no blood, no pain and no complications from anesthesia. Patients experience greater comfort because they can breathe normally during treatment and there is little or no recovery time. In fact, patients resume daily activities immediately following treatment.
The CyberKnife can strike the tumor with radiation from 150 different angles and thousands of precise points, an improvement on other therapies that attack lesions from far fewer positions.
“The tumor is bombarded by radiation from multiple sides, which is more efficient to destroy it,” said Dr. Schwartz. “Imagine a golf ball with the small indentations on its surface, and sending radiation to each indentation, rather than from the top only.”
The most noticeable benefit to brain patients is the lack of a head frame during treatments. All older treatment methods, such as GammaKnife, require the patient to wear a metal head frame that gets bolted to the skull, and can be very painful.
“This is one of the greatest advances with the CyberKnife; I don’t have to cause the patient more pain because of a head frame needed to stop patient movement,” says Dr. Schwartz. “It also expands radiation oncology options to children; with some sedation, we can even treat pediatric patients.”
More options for neurosurgeons
The CyberKnife also provides options to neurosurgeons.
“With the pinpoint accuracy of the CyberKnife, we can treat tumors on the spine,” said neurosurgeon Yaron Moshel, MD, co-director of the Brain Tumor Center of New Jersey at Overlook Medical Center’s Atlantic Neuroscience Institute, “and reach abnormal tangles of blood vessels in the brain.”
“The CyberKnife avoids the risks related to surgery including infection, anesthesia, scarring, and post-operative bleeding,” added Dr. Moshel.
“Traditionally we’re talking about a little round beam of radiation, like a pencil. Now imagine I told you to take a flashlight and use the beams to reconstruct the shape of the tumor—that’s hard to do. But CyberKnife uses laser beams to create a hologram, so we can shape the beam to match the exact shape of the tumor. We can live-track the tumor in a 3-D state, make adjustments, and even pause if necessary.”
The ability to spare healthy tissue is essential to preserving quality of life, especially when treating brain tumors, says Moshel. “In many places, radiating the entire brain is still the standard of care for treating brain tumors, but this often leads to dementia and other problems. By sparing healthy brain tissue, we’re able to avoid these issues. It makes a huge difference in quality of life. What’s the point of surviving cancer if you can’t feed yourself or drive a car because of radiation damage to the brain? This is a question we never asked 15 years ago, but we realize cancer treatment isn’t just about physical survival—it’s about having quality of life.”
Success for prostate cancer
CyberKnife is the biggest advancement in prostate cancer treatment in a decade. According to research studies at Stanford University Medical Center, CyberKnife treatment is as effective as surgery for the treatment of prostate cancer. And, because there is no cutting, the risk of incontinence and impotence is minimal.“At Overlook Medical Center, we have a ten-year, 95 percent success rate in treating prostate cancer with CyberKnife,” said Schwartz. “That’s a very high number in cancer treatment.”
The appropriate treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the biopsy Gleason score, PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) at diagnosis, age of the patient, overall health of the patient, and patient preference.
The CyberKnife Center is a part of the larger Carol G. Simon Cancer Center and Atlantic Neuroscience Institute at Overlook Medical Center. CyberKnife patients benefit from access to the experience and knowledge of hospital-based physician teams and specialists dedicated to comprehensive treatment and care.
“The CyberKnife M6 enhances our state-of-the-art oncology and neuroscience services,” said Alan Lieber, president and CEO, Overlook Medical Center. “As the longest running CyberKnife Center in the region, I am pleased our physicians can offer their patients years of experience matched with the latest advancement in radiosurgery technology.”
In addition, patients benefit from supportive services, including patient navigators, social work, physical therapists, nutritional counseling, genetic counseling and integrative medicine services. Many support services are offered to help patients and their families cope with illness and cancer.
“Knowing we have CyberKnife within our network of care empowers us to change our approach to treatment and care,” added Schwartz.
For more information about the CyberKnife Center at Overlook Medical Center, visit or call the CyberKnife Center coordinator, at 908-522-5624.
The CyberKnife System is designed, manufactured, and distributed worldwide by Accuray Incorporated, a privately-held corporation in Sunnyvale, California.
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey, is one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey. Atlantic Health System has created a Trusted Network of Caring™. Our promise to our communities is that anyone who enters our system will receive the right care, at the right quality, at the right time, at the right place and at the right cost. Our network includes Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ; Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ; Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ; Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ; and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, as well as Atlantic Rehabilitation, and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. It also includes its subsidiary, Atlantic Ambulance Corporation. Atlantic Health System comprises 1,599 licensed beds, more than 14,000 employees and more than 4,000 physicians. Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; a Major Clinical Affiliate of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; part of Atlantic Accountable Care Organization, one of the largest ACOs in the nation, and is a member of AllSpire Health Partners. Learn more about our Trusted Network of Caring™ at Atlantic Health System >