CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery, which is not available in the country, is increasingly being hailed by South Africans as a cure to cancer.
Former Proteas cricket captain Clive Rice recently returned from the Health Care Global Hospital (HCG) in Bangalore, India, which has the most advanced CyberKnife Radio Surgery System in Asia Pacific.
Rice was treated for a cancerous brain tumour that was deemed inoperable by a neurosurgeon in South Africa.
He was treated at HCG by radiation oncologist Dr Sridhar, who gave Health24 some more insight into the procedure.
Dr Sridhar (left) seated next to Clive Rice, and his team of doctors. (Image: Supplied by Clive Rice)
1) What is CyberKnife treatment?
CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery is a non-invasive radio surgery and it is used to target tumours precisely anywhere in the body with pinpoint accuracy, along with an intense dose of radiation.
It is recommended especially for inoperable and recurrent tumours, thus making the treatment not only pain-free but it significantly reduces treatment time as well.
2) Can you take us through the steps involved in CyberKnife treatment?
CyberKnife uses real-time image guidance software to continually track and adjust for movement during treatment. It confirms tumour location prior to beam delivery, making it possible to treat lesions which move with respiration, such as lung and pancreatic tumours.
The computer system is able to tell the CyberKnife robot not only where the tumour is, but also where it is in relation to the breathing cycle. It allows doctors to treat even small areas accurately because the robot synchronises with the patient's breathing. This allows the patient to breathe easily and stay relaxed throughout the procedure.
3) Are there any side effects to this procedure?
Since CyberKnife targets only the affected areas with a high degree of precision, there is minimum possible exposure of healthy cells to radiation.
The intensity of each individual beam isn't high. However, combined energy of the beams target the cancerous tissue with the least possible effect on healthy organs. This minimises side effects.
4) Can you explain what sort of equipment is used?
The Cyberknife works by sending multiple beams of high dose radiation from Linac, in a wide variety of angles using a robotic arm with high precision. X-ray cameras monitor the patient’s breathing and re-position the radiotherapy beam in order to minimise damage to healthy tissue. This accuracy enables tumours to be treated that are in difficult or dangerous positions such as near the brain or spinal cord.
A CyberKnife machine in full view. (Image: HCG)
5) Do you think that CyberKnife treatment should be offered in other countries as well as South Africa?
Absolutely, it should be offered in other countries as well. It not only helps the clinicians but it also offers hope to cancer patients with tumours which are otherwise inoperable due to their proximity to major blood vessels or sensitive organs.
It can be used for a range of cancers, including CNS, prostate, pancreas, liver, lung and bone and benign disease as well.
6) What are the costs involved that patients can expect to pay?
It depends on the patient’s condition and on the various fractions provided for different cases.
7) Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Cyberknife is an advanced form of robotic radio surgery, a technology which is not only very effective in treating cancer both benign and malignant tumours throughout the body but it enables a wide range of curative, palliative treatment with good quality of life for eligible cases.
To learn more about CyberKnife click here:
CyberKnife - HCG's newest technology for cancer treatment - HCG Enterprises
How CyberKnife save Clive Rice's life
Why Clive Rice is going to Bangalore for brain cancer treatment