Sep 01, 2010 - 12:24 pm
Should you consider CyberKnife for your prostate cancer treatment? Here's what we know about this new treatment ...
Talking About CyberKnife
Recently a subscriber to the Johns Hopkins Prostate Bulletin asked: I am 63 years old and I was diagnosed last week with prostate cancer (4.7 ng/dL PSA; Gleason 7). I have begun my due diligence to find an appropriate therapy. My doctor recommends radical prostatectomy surgery, but I have now read a lot about a treatment called CyberKnife. What are your thoughts about this prostate cancer therapy? Since many of you are interested in learning about prostate cancer treatments, we thought we'd share our reply ...
CyberKnife is a type of conformal beam radiotherapy that uses implanted "seeds" in the prostate to guide and adjust the accuracy of the beam in real time during surgery. The expectation is that this will improve precision in beam delivery due to small adjustments and changes in position during treatment, and can allow for a greater, more accurate concentration of the beam to the prostate than might be available by other methods.
Like many new forms of treatment, this therapy raises expectations that prostate cancer outcomes will be improved and complications will be reduced, but this has yet to be determined. The CyberKnife hasn't been around long enough for its effectiveness in prostate cancer treatment to be confirmed.
Like brachytherapy (seed radiation implants), CyberKnife relies in part for its accuracy of radiation delivery on target seeds that are placed by hand into the prostate, using needles and guidance systems. Conventional external beam radiotherapy relies only on CT-guided images for accuracy. The need to place seeds by hand into the prostate introduces a potential for error that is dependent on the experience and skill of the person placing the seeds.
In general, it takes a long time to prove the value of any new technology in medical care, but the public -- and many members of the medical profession -- are often quick to embrace new technology and make bold claims for its effectiveness.
The Men's John Hopkins web site is http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts_index/healthy_living/757-1.html