For many years, patients with inoperable or surgically challenging tumors had few viable treatment options. Fortunately, recent technological advances have made it possible to effectively treat many of these tumors painlessly and without surgery, offering better outcomes and an improved quality of life to patients who had little hope for the future.
That’s why more and more physicians in the region are sending their patients to the CyberKnife® Center at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. One of only a few sites in the region to house the CyberKnife technology, MedStar Franklin Square has emerged as a leader in using it to treat cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
In fact, since first installing the system, the specialists in the CyberKnife Center have performed some of the most complex radiosurgery procedures utilizing the technology on the East Coast. Today, it is one of the highest volume CyberKnife centers in the nation.
David Perry, MD, chief of Radiation Oncology and medical director of the CyberKnife program at MedStar Franklin Square, says the technology has revolutionized cancer care, “making it possible for us to eradicate cancerous tumors with sub-millimeter precision, and no impact on other parts of the patient’s body.”
And despite its name, CyberKnife involves no incisions. Rather it’s a safe and painless, outpatient alternative to surgery that is customized for each individual. A type of radiation therapy, CyberKnife uses three-dimensional imaging to point multiple, powerful beams of radiation directly at cancerous tumors, with no exposure to surrounding, healthy tissue.
CyberKnife is effective in the treatment of a variety of brain and spinal lesions not amenable to open surgical techniques. It is also an option for patients who are unable to have surgery, for lesions located in sites that were already treated with radiation, or as an adjunct to surgery—all with little to no recovery time and very good outcomes.
In addition to the brain, CyberKnife is used to treat tumors in the spine, lung, prostate, bones, liver, and pancreas. An outpatient procedure, it is painless, there is no anesthesia, incision or blood loss, and most patients return home the same day.
Carol LasCasas epitomizes the type of patient who benefits the most from CyberKnife treatment.
In 2015, after coughing up small amounts of blood, LasCasas consulted with her primary care physician, who ordered a standard chest X-ray, followed by a CT scan. Then, she got a phone call from her physician that made her world stop spinning.
“They saw a tumor on my right lung and a biopsy confirmed it was cancerous,” she recalls. And, worse yet, an MRI showed the cancer had spread to her brain. She began treatment in January 2016, which included surgery to remove her lung tumor along with chemotherapy and radiation. The brain lesions were not surgically operable.
“It was such a difficult, shocking, scary time for me and my family,” says LasCasas, a wife and mom to three children. “I had always lived a healthy lifestyle, and then all of a sudden, I was fighting for my life.”
Her oncologist monitored the progress of her disease regularly with CT scans and MRIs. Those scans showed tumors were continuing to develop including one in an area of her brain that proved to be difficult to reach with other approaches. Her doctor explained that CyberKnife technology could possibly help.
Patients who are candidates for CyberKnife treatment may go through anywhere from one to five sessions. In April 2016, LasCasas, who lives in Bel Air, underwent just one session, to treat the troublesome lesion in her brain.
“It worked,” LasCasas says. “Ever since that single treatment, my MRIs have been positive.”
For now, LasCasas’ treatment continues and includes immunotherapy sessions every three weeks. But she feels good and has her sights set on life beyond cancer. She’s enjoying time at home with her husband Rob, and daughter Stephanie, a high school student. They, along with LasCasas’ two older sons, recently took a family vacation to London.
“CyberKnife is superior technology that is, in many ways, changing the possible outcomes for many patients,” says Dr. Perry. "It significantly improved the quality of life for Carol. Without CyberKnife, her brain lesion could have impaired her ability to perform normal activities of daily living.”
For a physician referral, please call 1-877-CYBER 01 (1-877-292-3701).
For more information about our clinical trials, please call 443-777-7364.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, Maryland 21237
CyberKnife uses a combination of computers, image-guidance, and robotic technology to target radiation directly at tumor cells, while limiting radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
The CyberKnife Center at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center is one of the highest volume centers in