Cancer free after only five CyberKnife® treatments versus the 40 needed with traditional radiation

Cancer Free After Only Five CyberKnife® Treatments Versus the 40 Needed with Traditional Radiation

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Donald Bensom underwent successful treatment for prostate cancer at MedStar Health.

Don Besom of Bethesda, Maryland, starts every morning working out or canoeing with his wife of 67 years, Katherine. This regimen would be impressive for a person of any age, but Don is 87—and a prostate cancer survivor, thanks to his CyberKnife® treatments at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. The procedure allowed Don to quickly resume his active lifestyle after receiving only five treatments, versus the 40 required with conventional radiation.

Don was 73 when diagnosed with intermediate prostate cancer. At the time, he was considering brachytherapy, a type of radiation that involves placing radioactive seeds in the prostate. But “Don wasn’t a good candidate for brachytherapy due to his moderate urinary symptoms,” says Sean Collins, MD, director of the Prostate CyberKnife Program at MedStar Georgetown. “Brachytherapy can compress and obstruct your urethra. That is not an issue with CyberKnife.”

MedStar Georgetown was the first hospital on the East Coast to offer CyberKnife. Name notwithstanding, the treatment is not a surgical procedure, and there is no incision. It’s a non-invasive, highly accurate form of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) that targets the prostate with high radiation doses. Given its precision, CyberKnife offers excellent protection of surrounding healthy tissue. Since it is minimally invasive, there are fewer side effects and virtually no recovery time.

Best of all, CyberKnife requires just five sessions, versus the 40 required with traditional radiation. This appealed to Don, who was working at the time. A 35-year veteran of the diplomatic corps, Don had served in nine different countries.

Don recalls his first treatment. “When I entered the room, the MedStar Georgetown team was so kind. They asked what kind of music I liked. I said ‘classical,’ and then I went to sleep. This happened for all five treatments. Sometimes I was disappointed they woke me because I was enjoying my nap!”

Since his fifth and final treatment, Don has had no cancer recurrence, he feels great, and his PSAs have been consistently low. “There’s a group of us right in this neighborhood; we were all in Vietnam around the same time. Four of us had prostate cancer, and we all did CyberKnife. I was the first. I recommended it because it’s such an easy process and highly successful.”

To date, Dr. Collins has treated over 2,000 patients with CyberKnife. But he is quick to note that “We don’t just treat and forget you. We continue to follow up and care for our patients for the rest of their lives.”

CyberKnife is now considered standard of care treatment for all men with localized prostate cancer. Dr. Collins adds that “It’s now even more convenient. Don’s treatments took an hour each. Now they’re just 30 minutes.” “Oh, that would be terrible,” jokes Don, recalling his naps. “I’d hardly get any sleep.”

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 202-444-4639. To learn about CyberKnife at MedStar Georgetown, please click here.

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