“Recent studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CyberKnife® for early stage prostate cancer, with 93% of patients cancer-free five years after treatment. In addition, our patients appreciate the convenience of only five treatments, with minimal side effects. They are able to resume their normal activities immediately, without any recovery time needed.” –Richard Shumway, M.D., Director of the Connecticut CyberKnife Center at Saint Francis
“Preliminary data on erectile dysfunction suggests that it is much less of a problem than with surgery or standard radiation, probably because of the more precise nature of radiation delivery with the CyberKnife.” – Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, prostate surgeon, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
A five-day, pain-free treatment alternative to surgery and traditional radiation
Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, which is the part of a man’s reproductive system that helps produce semen. It is located under the bladder, behind the rectum and surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine passes.
Cancer develops when cells begin to grow abnormally in the prostate. Prostate cancer is very common in men over the age of 50. For most men, prostate cancer in its early stages does not produce symptoms. As the prostate cancer grows, it may cause difficulty with urination.
The diagnosis of prostate cancer can be life changing for men and their families. Because each patient's condition is different, it is very important to gather all of the information about your cancer and the treatment options available to you before making a decision.
Stages of Prostate Cancer
- Stages I and II (early stage prostate cancer): The cancer is still completely contained within the prostate. Stage II is often divided into one of three risk groups (low, intermediate or high), depending on the PSA blood test level, the Gleason score number from the biopsy, and the size of the nodule felt on the prostate exam. These risk groups correspond to the chance for curing the prostate cancer with either surgery or radiation.
- Stage III: The cancer has grown beyond the prostate into the surrounding tissue.
- Stage IV: The cancer has extended to nearby organs or has spread (metastasized) to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Treating Prostate Cancer with CyberKnife® Radiation
Surgery and conventional radiation are common treatments for prostate cancer. CyberKnife offers a convenient, effective and minimally invasive alternative. It uses computers and imaging tools to find the exact location of the tumor. The technology tracks the movement of the prostate and the tumor as a patient breathes and as other bodily processes occur. The CyberKnife robot operates with such precision and accuracy to allow doctors to focus radiation on the tumor —and not on any surrounding healthy tissue. Since CyberKnife treatments are non-invasive, patients may lessen their chances of side effects associated with conventional surgical methods used to treat prostate cancer, such as sexual dysfunction and/or incontinence.
Most early stage prostate cancers receive five CyberKnife treatments in one week. Some patients with cancers that may have a higher risk of spreading may be treated with a combination of five weeks of daily standard radiation, followed by three CyberKnife treatments.
Preparing for CyberKnife Treatment
Your team of trained specialists at Saint Francis will help you understand every step of CyberKnife treatment.
Before you have CyberKnife treatment, you may need:
- Fiducials – Fiducials are tiny gold seeds that guide the CyberKnife tools to the exact location of your tumor. In preparation for the CyberKnife treatments, the doctor will implant about three or four rice-sized fiducials through a needle into your prostate during an outpatient procedure, similar to the prostate biopsy procedure.
- Patients will need to do an enema immediately before the fiducial placement procedure.
- Patients will need to take antibiotics for three days after the fiducial procedure.
- Custom body mold – This mold is formed to your body to lie on, and will help you feel more comfortable during any pre-treatment imaging procedures, as well as during the CyberKnife procedure itself. It also keeps your body from moving too much so that all procedures will be as precise as possible.
- Imaging – You will need to have a computed tomography (CT) scan, and MRI scan which create a detailed picture of your prostate tumor, as well as nearby healthy organs like the bladder and rectum, using computers and x-rays. The scans will give the CyberKnife the information it needs to pinpoint the exact size, shape and location of your tumor—and to avoid exposing the healthy surrounding organs and tissues to unnecessary radiation.
During CyberKnife Treatment
- Before the treatment, our team will help you put on your custom body mold. During the treatment, you should lie still on a table. The CyberKnife robot will move around your body delivering radiation beams to your tumor.
- You should not feel any discomfort, and nothing will touch you directly. During treatment, you can even watch a movie on the flat screen TV on the ceiling!
- Each treatment will take about 45 minutes.
- You are free to return to your regular schedule following the procedure.
After CyberKnife Treatment
- Most prostate cancer patients will receive five CyberKnife treatments over the course of one week.
- After treatment, you should be able to immediately return to your normal daily activities.
- Following the fourth treatment, some patients may develop urinary frequency, urgency or a slower stream. If this develops, you may be prescribed a medication to take for several weeks to help you urinate better.
- Other less common side effects may include fatigue or mild diarrhea, which are generally less intense than with traditional radiation.
- Typically any side effects from the CyberKnife treatment will resolve within 2-4 weeks.
- If you are concerned about any symptoms you may experience, contact your CyberKnife physician or nurse.
- The best way to monitor the success of the CyberKnife treatments is with the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test. It is important to follow-up with both your urologist and the CyberKnife radiation oncology physician. Patients are initially seen one month after treatment, then every six months afterwards. PSA levels drop most dramatically during the first six months, but will often continue dropping for up to 2 years.