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Cyberknife vs Conventional Radio Therapy

Conventional radiation works on the principle of small doses on a daily basis, allowing the recovery of normal cells in between these doses. However, this enables the partial repair of malignant cancer cells also. Therefore, in radiotherapy, the total dose that is provided affect the tumour control at the rate of a dose-per- treatment. When the patient is on the couch during radiation treatment, there is bound to be natural movement of the patient and the tumour due to either breathing or the surrounding organ filled with either fluid or gas. This may vary between a few millimetres to a few centimetres.

To account for this and not to miss the tumour, a wider area of normal tissue is intentionally included. As we include larger normal tissues, lesser doses can be tolerated. Therefore, in conventional radiation therapy for cancer treatment, focus is more on giving lesser doses to avoid toxicity rather than delivering the required dose to control the tumour. When the size of the tumour exceeds 4 centimetres, the conventional radiation schedule may not be as effective as less than 4 centimetres. This is due to the presence of a large number of anoxic cells and resting cancer cells not entering the sensitive phase of the cell cycle during the course of radiation. This results in non-response or/and recurrence. Also, cancers like renal cell carcinomas, sarcomas and melanomas are considered traditionally resistant to conventional radiation doses.

Conventional radiation therapy (radiotherapy) administers a broad beam of radiation from one or two directions in 30 to 45 treatments. It delivers low-dose beams of radiation over a period of 6-8 weeks - the time required to allow the recovery of healthy tissue damaged during the cancer treatment.

CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery for the treatment of cancer delivers high-dose beams of radiation, which can be more effective in destroying tumours anywhere in the body. This system can deliver radiation beams from virtually any direction with sub-millimetre accuracy. With CyberKnife radiosurgery, damage to surrounding healthy tissues is minimised. Therefore the treatment can be completed mostly in 3-5 days. Now with technology like CyberKnife, more focused radiation doses are delivered. This increases the chance of the removal of the resistant cancer cells. CyberKnife is the only stereotactic machine, as of now, which tracks the tumour during cancer treatment and automatically corrects the patient’s position.