Metastatic Cancer

Metastatic tumors occur when cancer cells from the primary cancer spread to other areas of the body. The most common areas cancer cells spread to are the brain, lungs, liver and bones. When cancer spreads to another area, it has the same name and the same type as the original cancer. For example, renal cell cancer that has spread to the lung is called metastatic renal cell cancer, not lung cancer.

Treatment options for metastatic tumors include surgery, CyberKnife® Radiosurgery, Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy and targeted therapies. The plan for treatment will depend on the type of primary cancer; the size, location, and number of metastatic tumors; age and general health; and previous treatments. Areas that have already had radiation therapy may be eligible for CyberKnife® Radiosurgery. Treatment options mentioned may be given alone or with another treatment.

What is CyberKnife Radiosurgery?

CyberKnife Radiosurgery is not surgery. It can treat cancerous and noncancerous (benign) tumors and lesions throughout the body. The treatment is an outpatient procedure performed in one to five visits. CyberKnife treatments are painless and require no recovery time. You can go back to your normal activities right after treatment.

How does CyberKnife treat metastatic cancer?

The CyberKnife delivers high-dose radiation directly to the metastatic lesion(s)/tumor. The CyberKnife robot moves in many different directions and is controlled by state of the art computers giving it a high level of accuracy. The CyberKnife technology tracks and corrects for tumor motion during breathing or patient movement. This level of precision allows for treatment in areas of the body where surgery may not be possible because of location or other health problems of the patient. Areas of the body most often treated for metastatic cancer with CyberKnife are:

Brain The most common sources of metastases in the brain include lung, breast, and skin cancers, though almost any cancer has the ability to spread to the brain. Chemotherapy is not effective for treating metastatic brain tumors. Radiosurgery is. Unlike most radiosurgery systems, the CyberKnife doesn’t need an invasive head frame. Other radiosurgery systems are capable of high-dose radiation treatment. However, nearly all methods use a metal frame attached to the patient’s skull with screws that immobilize the head to accurately target the tumor. Local anesthetic is used for mounting the frames, though frames can be uncomfortable and painful to some extent. The CyberKnife allows patients to receive a high dose of radiation in more than one treatment. Other systems do not. Known as fractionated radiosurgery, this method is particularly beneficial for patients who have previously received radiation therapy, as well as those with tumors near critical areas of the brain. CyberKnife radiosurgery delivers high-dose radiation while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue by precisely aiming multiple beams of radiation from many different angles. Therefore, radiosurgery is one the most aggressive and effective radiation treatments available for brain metastases. While whole-brain radiation therapy can require numerous treatments over several weeks, Cyberknife radiosurgery is usually completed one to five sessions and only treats the tumor(s), not the whole brain. CyberKnife radiosurgery also is used frequently for patients with more than one metastatic tumor, a condition that usually prevents surgery. CyberKnife can also be used after surgery to prevent regrowth or to treat a tumor that persists or regrows after surgery.

Lungs Lung metastases develop from cancer cells that spread from another cancerous tumor in the body, usually through the bloodstream or through the lymphatic system. Bladder, breast, colon, kidney, and prostate cancer can be the source of the metastatic lesion/tumor in the lung, CyberKnife technology tracks breathing, correcting for tumor movement during the treatment which allows treatment only to the tumor target, minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy lung tissues and critical anatomy and causing fewer, if any, side effects. Patients are able to breathe normally and relax comfortably throughout the treatment.

Liver Liver metastases develop when a cancerous tumor from another part of the body spreads to the liver through the bloodstream. Common sources of metastases in the liver include colorectal, breast, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, and stomach cancer, though almost any cancer has the ability to spread to the liver. CyberKnife technology allows for real-time tracking of liver tumor motion, adjusting for movement during the treatment. CyberKnife’s ability to treat tumors with precisely focused radiation offers an important advantage for liver cancer patients. Accurate to within less than a millimeter, radiosurgery has minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue. This level of accuracy enables doctors to target metastatic lesions in the liver with high-dose radiation. CyberKnife is given in five or less treatments over several days compared to 30-40 treatments over several weeks needed for standard radiation.

Bones Bones are another common site for metastases, which occur when cancer cells from a primary cancer spread to the bone. Metastases can form small holes in the affected bone, which weaken the bone and increase the risk of fractures and other issues. Prostate, breast, and lung cancers are the most common sources of bone metastases, though almost any cancer has the ability to spread to the bones. CyberKnife is a non-surgical option for treating bone metastases and spinal tumors delivering targeted high-dose radiation to cancer cells while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue. Treatment is delivered in one to five sessions and no overnight hospital stay is required. While healthy tissue can be damaged with conventional radiation therapy for bone metastases, radiosurgery with CyberKnife spares normal tissue, which is particularly important when treating spinal metastases close to a critical structure, such as the spinal cord. CyberKnife radiosurgery has been shown to control tumor growth and provide pain relief.

How effective is CyberKnife?

As numerous clinical studies show, CyberKnife offers an effective treatment option for metastases with an extremely low likelihood of side effects. CyberKnife is a good alternative to surgery and conventional radiation therapy. Patients with complex tumors and those seeking non-invasive ways to treat recurring cancer and metastatic tumors benefit from CyberKnife Treatment.

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