CyberKnife radiation treatment works by targeting tumors with very precise but very high doses of radioactive subatomic particles, claims Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Because of this, the radiation destroys the tumor but leaves the healthy tissue around it undamaged.
The CyberKnife is one of several stereotactic radiosurgery devices, says Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. These devices use a linear accelerator to deliver radiation. In the case of CyberKnife, the use of a robotic arm makes it even more flexible. Still, CyberKnife, like other machines of its kind, relies largely on the skill and experience of the human surgical team operating it.
The use of CyberKnife doesn't require an incision, says Penn Medicine. The patient does not need anesthesia and experiences no pain. There is also no blood loss with CyberKnife, and the patient's downtime is very brief. It is an outpatient procedure.
CyberKnife also treats tumors that are hard to find and difficult to treat surgically, claims Penn Medicine. Cyberknife's radio beams are also able to synchronize with the patient's breathing. This makes it easier for the device to find and target tumors, which move around during operations. As of 2015, surgeons use CyberKnife to treat tumors of the brain and spine and cancers of the kidney, liver, lung and pancreas.