CyberKnife:

Nonsurgical treatment for tumors anywhere in the body.

CyberKnife:

Nonsurgical treatment for tumors anywhere in the body.

Why CyberKnife is Better

CyberKnife can target tumors that are unreachable or inoperable with precision and accuracy while keeping surrounding tissues healthy. The sophisticated system is a great advancement offering the following advantages:

  • Minimal pain: CyberKnife is a nonsurgical approach, so there is no anesthesia, incision, or recovery time.
  • Only a few treatments: Tumors are treated in just a few treatments compared to other forms of radiation therapy.
  • No overnight hospitalization: An outpatient treatment, CyberKnife usually allows you to return home the same day.
  • Fast and accurate: Approaching its target from more than 1,400 angles, CyberKnife can deliver high doses of radiation precisely avoiding surrounding, healthy tissue.
  • Quick recovery times: Get back to your normal life almost immediately, unlike the expected recovery period for surgical or other types of treatment.

CyberKnife treats cancerous and benign tumors of the:

  • Brain, spine, and skull base
  • Head and neck
  • Prostate
  • Lung
  • Gastrointestinal tract, including pancreas and liver
  • Breast
  • Gynecologic tumors
  • Other soft-tissue organs

CyberKnife Treatment at MedStar Georgetown University

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital—the first hospital on the East Coast to offer the technology 15 years ago—is among the world’s most experienced CyberKnife sites. Our CyberKnife experts have treated more than 25,000 treatments with tumors of the head and neck, brain and spine, breast, lungs, gynecologic tumors, pancreas and liver, and prostate.

MedStar Georgetown in Washington D.C. is also one of the few centers in the country that study CyberKnife for new and improved uses. That means access to clinical trials that could help your condition and that aren’t available elsewhere.

The nonsurgical CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System destroys tumors using highly precise, targeted radiation, with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Unlike conventional radiation therapy that can take multiple sessions, CyberKnife, also known as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), is complete after only a few treatments.

CyberKnife Facebook Live Demonstration with Dr. Sean Collins
Radiation oncologist Dr. Sean Collins takes us behind the scenes of a CyberKnife treatment live on Facebook. The robotic arm of the CyberKnife delivers precise doses of radiation to tumors anywhere in the body.

They Did Wonders for Me

Two years ago, 77-year-old Shirley Smallwood was given destressing news.  The biopsy of a small nodule in her lung indicated cancer—and her local hospital’s oncologist told her to go to MedStar Georgetown.  “I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring,” she remembers.

For Shirley, tomorrow brought very good news.  The size and location of her tumor made her a perfect candidate for CyberKnife therapy—sophisticated technology that emits high energy beams of radiation directly at the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding lung tissue.

“Ms. Smallwood’s cancer was small,” explains says Brian Collins, MD, radiation oncologist.  “But because of other health issues, surgery was risky. She was thrilled that she had another good option.”

Right after Christmas 2014, Shirley underwent five CyberKnife radiation treatments during one week. “I had no pain and no side effects from the treatment,” Shirley says. “And after that was complete, I didn’t need any other treatment.”

In November, Shirley had her two-year check-up and her scans show no sign of cancer. “They told me they didn’t want to see me for a year! I would recommend CyberKnife and Dr. Collins to anyone. They did wonders for me!”

Two years ago, 77-year-old Shirley Smallwood was given destressing news.  The biopsy of a small nodule in her lung indicated cancer—and her local hospital’s oncologist told her to go to MedStar Georgetown.  “I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring,” she remembers.

For Shirley, tomorrow brought very good news.  The size and location of her tumor made her a perfect candidate for CyberKnife therapy—sophisticated technology that emits high energy beams of radiation directly at the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding lung tissue.

“Ms. Smallwood’s cancer was small,” explains says Brian Collins, MD, radiation oncologist.  “But because of other health issues, surgery was risky. She was thrilled that she had another good option.”

Right after Christmas 2014, Shirley underwent five CyberKnife radiation treatments during one week. “I had no pain and no side effects from the treatment,” Shirley says. “And after that was complete, I didn’t need any other treatment.”

In November, Shirley had her two-year check-up and her scans show no sign of cancer. “They told me they didn’t want to see me for a year! I would recommend CyberKnife and Dr. Collins to anyone. They did wonders for me!”

How it Works

CyberKnife uses a combination of robotics, image guidance systems and computers to deliver highly concentrated doses of radiation to the tumor site while protecting surrounding healthy tissue. CyberKnife is the only stereotactic robotic radiosurgery system that adjusts for patient or tumor movement during treatment (intrafraction motion) making it comfortable for patients.

  • CyberKnife treatment begins with a consultation to explain the procedure in detail. To treat tumors in the chest, abdomen, pelvis or other soft tissue that moves with respiration, it may be necessary to implant tiny gold markers, or “fiducials,” that act as targets for the system’s missile-like rays. Fiducials are not required to treat tumors of the head, neck and spine.
  • Afterward, a team of experienced physicians uses MRIs, CT scans and three-dimensional technology to pinpoint the exact size and location of the tumor to create a treatment plan. (Prior to this step, a light plastic mask—used for brain, head or neck tumors—or a comfortable foam body-immobilizing system—for tumors in the abdomen and pelvis—must be made to help minimize patient movement during treatment. This is a simple and painless process.)
  • A week or two later, CyberKnife treatments begin. Just a few 60-minute sessions are needed—complete within one to two weeks.
  • Patients are usually able to resume normal activity almost immediately. Follow up will include imaging to monitor the tumor's treatment response. Your physician will discuss these images with you.
  • CyberKnife locks onto its target regardless of movement, so you can relax and breathe normally during treatment.

Is Cyberknife Right for You?

CyberKnife may be your best option if:

  • Your lesion or tumor is untreatable by surgery or other radiation modalities
  • You have previously undergone radiation treatments
  • You are elderly, frail or otherwise in compromised health

Proven Outcomes

 

Recent research has proven that higher doses of radiation decrease the chance of cancer recurring. CyberKnife’s laser-like accuracy can deliver those highly concentrated doses while avoiding nearby healthy tissue.

Other studies—including national, multi-institutional protocols, many conducted at MedStar Georgetown—indicate that CyberKnife is as effective as other radiation therapies for treating low-and intermediate-risk prostate cancer patients. As an added benefit, CyberKnife treatment is completed within only a few visits.

Radiation Medicine Physicians

See MedStar Georgetown University's list of top-rated radiation medicine physicians below. Need help selecting a doctor? Call to speak to a clinical expert.

Anatoly Dritschilo, MD, was appointed professor and chairman, Department of Radiation Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and chief of service, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, in 2010. Previously, Dr. Dritschilo served as interim chair of the Department of Oncology and as interim director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center.

In the course of his clinical career, Dr. Dritschilo has treated more than 5,000 patients with cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, gastrointestinal tract, brain tumors and pediatric cancers. He has been instrumental in bringing state-of-the-art therapies and technologies to MedStar Georgetown, including proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™, and CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). MedStar Georgetown was one of the first CyberKnife sites on the East Coast, leading to its current position as a national leader in volume, experience and expertise. MedStar Georgetown is the first hospital in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to offer proton therapy and the first in the world to offer proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™.

Dr. Dritschilo is a prolific researcher, with a cumulative total of more than $20 million in NIH awards and nearly 250 peer-reviewed, published articles. He is a regular reviewer and editor for prominent scientific and medical publications, a sought-after presenter at national and international meetings, and a frequent guest lecturer at medical schools around the county. He is the holder of a dozen U.S. patents and serves as a diplomat of the American College of Radiology.

Dr. Dritschilo received his medical degree from the College of Medicine of New Jersey. He completed a residency in radiation therapy and a fellowship in radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School. After a brief stint at Tufts University-New England Medical Center, Dr. Dritschilo joined Georgetown in 1979.

Philosophy of Care

Each patient presents with a unique set of cancer-related and personal circumstances that are best evaluated and treated by a multidisciplinary team for optimal outcomes.

Brian T. Collins, MD, is the medical director of the Department of Radiation Medicine at the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital as well as associate professor within the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Collins joined the staff in 2001 after completing his residency at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. He received his medical degree from SUNY-Stony Brook and completed his internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in New York City.

Dr. Collins is a board-certified radiation oncologist with a particular interest in treating CNS tumors and has led the Department’s CNS program for the last 15 years. In addition, he has significant clinical experience treating lung and breast cancer. Dr. Collins is a world-renowned expert in CyberKnife® radiotherapy technology. He has also mastered the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools, including proton therapy, CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT), and brachytherapy.

Dr. Collins is a frequent contributor to scientific journals, books, and publications particularly in the areas of CNS, lung, and breast cancer. He is an associate editor for the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Radiation Oncology. Dr. Collins is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and a member of numerous related professional organizations.

Philosophy of Care

Cura personalis, or “care for the whole person,” is the Jesuit tradition that guides my care. Each person’s cancer care requires a multidisciplinary approach. As a team, we consider each person’s physical, emotional, and psychosocial health and how these various factors impact the individual’s overall health, well-being, and outcome.

Radiation Oncologist Sean Collins, MD, PhD, is director of the CyberKnife® Prostate Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and associate professor of Radiation Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Collins joined Georgetown in 2006 after completing his residency in radiation oncology at MedStar Georgetown and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and, previously, a surgical internship at MedStar Georgetown. In addition to his medical degree, he also holds a doctorate in Biological Chemistry, both from the University of Michigan's Medical Scientist Training Program.

Dr. Collins uses the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools including proton therapy, CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/RapidArc®), and brachytherapy.

The major focus of Dr. Collins' clinical work is the development of prostate cancer treatment protocols using SBRT. Patients receiving conventionally fractionated radiation therapy are treated daily for approximately 8 to 9 weeks. The treatment schedule is based on logistics and life responsibilities, as such prolonged treatment courses may present unnecessary hardship for patients and families.

To date, Dr. Collins has enrolled more than 200 patients on investigator-initiated, Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved clinical protocols exploring the role of SBRT in prostate cancer treatment. His work has appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, Radiotherapy and Oncology, International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, Cancer Journal and many other scientific publications. He also serves as a reviewer or editorial board member for numerous other publications, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

Philosophy of Care

We work as a team to make sure that every patient receives the highest quality, most effective treatment available today. That's especially true for prostate cancer patients, where there are so many options. For us, treating prostate cancer is not only about curing the disease, but assuring each patient's long-term quality of life. Toward that end, I establish open communication with my patients, ensuring ease of access and peace of mind from diagnosis through recovery.

K. William Harter, MD, is vice chair of the Department of Radiation Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and co-director of the multidisciplinary Head and Neck/Skull Base Tumor Service. He also holds the rank of professor at Georgetown University Medical School.

Board-certified in radiation oncology, Dr. Harter specializes in the latest radiation oncology techniques and tools including proton therapy, retreatment of head and neck cancers with CyberKnife®, CyberKnife stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and sterotectic radiosurgery (SRS), and intensity-modulated radiation/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/ RapidArc®).

Dr. Harter was a clinical fellow in head and neck radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in 1982. Previously, he was a resident at the Harvard Joint Center for Radiation Therapy, preceded by a residency in radiation oncology and an internship in general surgery, both at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Harter received his medical degree from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in 1978.

Dr. Harter's work has been published in many scientific journals and periodicals and he has written numerous chapters for medical textbooks. He has been recognized as a "Top Doctor" by Washingtonian magazine every year since the award's inception.

Jonathan W. Lischalk, MD, is a clinical instructor in MedStar Georgetown University Hospital's Department of Radiation Medicine. His clinical focus is treating lung, brain and spine, and prostate cancers. Dr. Lischalk specializes in proton therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), RapidArc®, CyberKnife® stereotactic body radiation therapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery. His training includes international experience at the Heidelberg University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany, focused on the technique and delivery of particle therapy, specifically proton and carbon treatment.

Dr. Lischalk is actively involved in collaborative research with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Georgetown Biomedical Informatics Department and Heidelberg University Hospital. This research is focused on analysis of ccfDNA using scanning microscopy fluoroscopic technique.

Dr. Lischalk's main areas of clinical expertise include central nervous system malignancies, gastrointestinal malignancies, genitourinary malignancies, and thoracic malignancies.

Sonali Rudra, MD, serves as director of the Breast Cancer Radiation Oncology Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and an assistant professor for the Department of Radiation Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She specializes in treating patients with breast cancer, gynecologic malignancies, pediatric malignancies, and central nervous malignancies. She employs a range of technologies, including proton therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/RapidArc®), CyberKnife® stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and high-dose rate brachytherapy.

Dr. Rudra is widely published in respected clinical journals and serves on an editorial board reviewing clinical articles. She also participates in professional activities, serving as a core member of the team at MedStar Georgetown responsible for accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) to ensure clinical quality. She is also a member of the Intraoperative Radiation (IORT) Working Group.

Philosophy of Care

I believe in treating my patients as individuals and strive to provide them with the best possible outcomes while minimizing the effect on their lives.

Andrew Satinsky, MD, is an attending radiation oncologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and clinical director of the Radiation Oncology Center at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.

A specialist in prostate cancer and lung cancer, Dr. Satinsky uses the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools including proton therapy, low- and high-dose rate gynecologic brachytherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/RapidArc®), and CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).

Dr. Satinsky has been involved in research on a variety of radiation oncology-related topics. As the chair of the MedStar Georgetown Radiation Oncology Residency Program's Clinical Competency Committee, he helps to train new doctors. Dr. Satinsky also serves as chair of the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Cancer Committee and is a member of the education committee.

Board-certified Radiation Oncologist Keith Unger, MD, is director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Service for the Department of Radiation Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and director of the Department's residency training program. Concurrently, he serves as associate professor of Radiation Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

In addition to general radiation oncology, Dr. Unger specializes in the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools. These include proton therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), CyberKnife® stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), selective internal radiation therapy (TheraSphere®, SIR-Spheres®), and intraoperative radiation therapy (INTRABEAM®).

Dr. Unger completed his internship at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and residency at MedStar Georgetown, including a year as chief resident for Radiation Oncology. He received both his undergraduate and medical degree from the University of Virginia, where he was the recipient of numerous academic honors and awards.

As a researcher and educator, Dr. Unger has been a co-author of multiple text book chapters and publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as a presenter at major medical meetings. His research focuses on the development of novel radiation therapy techniques and reduction in treatment related side effects.

Dr. Unger sees patients at both MedStar Georgetown and MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital.

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