Winthrop will soon offer patients with otherwise untreatable or inaccessible malignant and benign tumors new hope.
Expanding its already extensive arsenal of weapons used in the battle against cancer, in late summer 2005, the Hospital will become the first in the New York City Metropolitan Area to provide CyberKnife(R) therapy -- a state-of-the-science approach to stereotactic radiosurgery that takes non-invasive treatment of tumors to a new level.
"CyberKnife provides us with a spectacular new tool for treating malignant and benign tumors of the brain, spine and spinal cord," said Winthrop neurosurgeon Jeffrey A. Brown, MD. The program, which was spearheaded by the Divisions of Neurosurgery and Radiation Oncology, "will put Winthrop at the forefront of surgery and radiation therapy," he added.
Conventional stereotactic radiosurgery, which delivers high doses of focused radiation beams from outside the body to internal tumors or lesions, was -- until recently -- restricted to treating brain lesions with the GammaKnife(R) or a converted linear accelerator. These tools rely on using a rigid metal frame bolted to the skull for hours in order to immobilize the patient so the radiation can be accurately targeted to the tumor.
Less invasive, CyberKnife therapy does not need to immobilize the patient, nor is it limited to the treatment of brain masses. Instead, it employs groundbreaking cruise missile guidance technology to target and track tumors and lesions anywhere in thbody with computerized image-guided precisio
"At first, we will concentrate on treating brain and spine tumors," said Alan Katz, MD, Director of Radiation Oncology. "Eventually, our treatment will expand to include the head and neck area, lung, pancreas and liver."
Jonathan Haas, MD, a Winthrop radiation oncologist, added: "CyberKnife will enable us to view the anatomy in real-timee, a Winthrop radiation oncologist, added: "CyberKnife(R) will enable us to view the anatomy in real-time, added: "CyberKnife(R) will enable us to view the anatomy in real-time and adjust the position of the radiation beam so that it stays on target even if the patient moves."
These views are provided by several X-ray cameras -- configured with powerful computer software -- which continuously update the target's position during treatment. They feed the images to an ultra-flexible robotic arm that carries an advanced linear accelerator (radiation source), which delivers hundreds of radiation beams to the designated site.
Using the data received from the X-rays, the robot moves constantly, monitoring the anatomy, checking and rechecking the patient's position, compensating for -- and responding to -- the slightest movements by instantly repositioning the linear accelerator so it can change the angle and direction of the radiation beams and deliver them to the site quickly and accurately.
On its own, each beam is relatively weak. However, when they converge on the target, their power is astounding and extraordinarily precise; so precise that physicians can destroy even deep even deeply imbedded tumors and masses with complex shapes without harming surrounding healthy tissue.
Achieving surgical-like outcomes, CyberKnife can be an alternative to open surgery. Treatments are offered on an outpatient basis, anesthesia is unnecessary, there is no blood loss, and the risk of complications is lower.
"It offers patients speedier, more comfortable treatment," said James Matera, BS, RTT, Technical Director of Radiation Oncology at Winthrop. Mr. Matera, along with the entire radiation oncology team and many of the Hospital's surgeons, will undergo weeks of intensive training before Winthrop's CyberKnife program is launched.
"CyberKnife is an exciting development for Winthrop's cancer team," said William Reed, MD, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, and known for his expertise in pancreatic cancer surgery. "Now we will be able to deal with tumors once considered unresectable and remove parts of lesions once believed to be inaccessible."
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