Prostate cancer is a common form of cancer that affects males. The CyberKnife is a device that uses radiation therapy that can help treat prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer after skin cancer for American males, causing almost 35,000 deaths per year. While it typically causes no symptoms during its early stages, without treatment, it can cause symptoms, such as problems urinating, pain around the midriff, and tiredness.

Prostate cancer can become life threatening without treatment. There are many forms of cancer treatments that doctors might recommend for someone with prostate cancer, including:

  • watchful waiting
  • surgery
  • radiation therapy
  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • immunotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • bisphosphonate therapy

CyberKnife is the brand name for a system of delivering radiation therapy to people with cancer. Evidence notes that this form of therapy can help treat different types of cancer throughout the body, including prostate cancer.

Read on to learn more about CyberKnife therapy and how doctors might use it to treat prostate cancer.

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A patient is prepared to undergo a Cyberknife treatment, on February 6, 2013, at the Oscar Lambret Center in Lille, northern France, a regional medical unit specialised in cancer’s treatment. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/Getty Images

CyberKnife delivers a type of radiation therapy. These are common treatments that use radiation to target cancer cells. It uses high-energy beams of particles, or waves, to destroy cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors. The radiation breaks DNA chains within cancerous cells to stop them from growing.

CyberKnife is a type of external beam radiation therapy that uses high-energy rays from outside the body to target tumors. It is a stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which targets smaller tumors in the prostate without needing an incision or surgery.

Radiation therapies can damage surrounding tissues. However, CyberKnife uses a robotic arm to deliver focused radiation to reduce the risk of damaging healthy tissue. CyberKnife also features cameras and sensors, which help it further minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Evidence notes that CyberKnife is an effective treatment for cancer and can help with prostate cancer treatment.

The MD Anderson Cancer Center states that SBRT is useful for small tumors, primarily in the prostate, lung, or kidneys. However, SBRT is also helpful for treating tumors that spread to other areas, potentially slowing the progression of the disease.

CyberKnife might be an option for people who are unable to undergo surgery. People who can receive SBRT typically have well-defined tumors smaller than 4 centimeters (cm) away from structures sensitive to radiation, such as the optic nerve.

There are many types of prostate cancer treatments. The right treatment choice depends on several factors, including the disease severity and the person’s age and general health. People should work with a medical team to identify the right type of treatment for their specific circumstances.

CyberKnife and other SBRTs have several features that make them useful in some situations. Stanford Medicine states some advantages of SBRT include the following:

  • Effectiveness and accuracy: SBRT is highly effective and accurate enough to avoid damaging healthy tissues.
  • Noninvasive: Doctors can deliver the treatment without surgery or an incision, making it a more comfortable and lower-risk option.
  • Convenience: Many clinics offer SBRT as a short, outpatient option without the need for hospitalization. It is generally pain-free and has a shorter recovery time.

People undergoing a CyberKnife treatment will need to attend a preliminary appointment. This will allow doctors to assess their eligibility and determine the proper dosage of radiation.

Doctors will use this session to plan the treatment, where appropriate. A doctor may require multiple planning sessions before the treatment can begin. They typically use imaging tests to determine the location and size of the tumor. This will inform the angle and intensity of the beams necessary during the treatment.

Doctors will also create a mold of the person’s body that supports them in a position that maximizes the effectiveness of the treatment. CyberKnife also requires doctors to place small, gold pellets in the prostate that will guide the treatment.

There are typically 4–5 CyberKnife sessions that last about an hour over the course of 1–2 weeks. The treatment involves lying on a table while a robotic system moves up and down the body to deliver radiation to the prostate from various angles. The treatment requires no restraints or anesthesia.

People can receive CyberKnife during an outpatient visit. This means that it requires no hospitalization as with other prostate cancer treatments, such as traditional radiation therapy.

CyberKnife lists several possible side effects on its website, including:

  • constipation
  • incontinence
  • hemorrhoids
  • bleeding from the rectum or urinal tract
  • difficulty urinating
  • frequent and urgent urination
  • blood in the stool
  • erectile dysfunction

CyberKnife requires no hospitalization. People typically recover quickly from SBRT treatments and are able to resume daily activities after treatment. They will typically have to attend a clinic after treatment to examine how well the treatment worked and assess any side effects.

CyberKnife is a noninvasive way of delivering radiation therapy using a robotic system. It is a type of stereotactic body radiation therapy that uses high-energy radiation beams to kill cancerous cells and reduce tumor size. People with prostate cancer may be eligible for CyberKnife, depending on the size of their tumor.

CyberKnife and other SBRTs have various advantages over traditional treatments, including their high effectiveness and ease of delivery. One of the key advantages of SBRT is that it can precisely deliver radiation to avoid damaging healthy tissues around the prostate.