Monthly Archives: May 2017

What’s the Big Deal about the CyberKnife? Why only 5 Treatments?

The Superior Precision of the CyberKnife allows for Only 3-5 Treatments Most Cancers.

Simply put, CyberKnife Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy, or SABR for short, controls cancers even better than predicted.  For example, the results for patients with early stage lung cancer have been particularly striking. Studies have shown 85-90% cancer control rates with a 3-5 CyberKnife treatments versus only 30% with 30-40 ordinary radiation treatments.  This means that  85-90% of lung cancer patient treated with the CyberKnife got rid of their cancer. That is a huge increase in successful cancer treatment. More people are beating their disease with the CyberKnife than with ordinary radiation therapy.

Because of this success, a lot of research is being done to find out why it is working so well. And to learn how else SABR can be used to treat cancers and other diseases. Here are some cutting-edge facts:

CyberKnife Damages Cancer’s Blood Supply  

  1. In a recent editorial, oncologist Dr. Paul Sperduto and colleagues stated “the literature supporting this phenomenon (high-dose radiation results in indirect tumor cell death) is not fragmentary, but actually quite robust….  However, we have consistently underestimated the role of indirect cell death by devascularization and its possible role in radiation-induced immune enhancement.”  (Int. J Radiation Oncol Biol Phys. 91, No.1,pp121-13, 2015)
  2. When you cut off the blood supply to the cancer cells, they die. Decades of research shows that a few high doses of radiation will damage the blood vessels supplying the tumor. There is now active research combining Avastin, a drug that blocks blood vessel formation and SABR. Using Avastin and the Cyber Knife may double the efforts to cut off the tumor’s blood supply.

 CyberKnife Can Generate an Immune Response to Attack the Cancer

CyberKnife may help unleash your body’s own immune system to fight your cancer. Recent studies suggest that SABR cause the body to release tumor-specific antigens. These antigens are unique molecules released after radiation destruction of cancer and can generate a cancer-specific immune response.  Once again, there is now active research combining SABR, like that delivered by CyberKnife, with the recent FDA approved drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors.

CyberKnife Tracks Your Cancer As It Moves

Much like a jet-fighter pilot who always has an enemy target in its cross-hairs, CyberKnife can track your lung cancer as it moves with each and every breath.  CyberKnife’s pencil thin beams of radiation can destroy your tumor, while sparing surrounding normal tissues.  Because of this precision, CyberKnife  uses hundreds of beams of radiation instead of 5 – 7 beams delivered with other radiation machines. With the CyberKnife you do not have to hold your breath during treatment. You just lie still and the machine does all the work for you. Each treatment typically takes a mere 25-50 minutes, with plenty of breaks if needed.

It is not just lung cancers that move. Prostate cancer, liver cancer, pancreas cancer, and many other cancers move inside the body. CyberKnife is the only radiation device that directly watches your cancer as it moves, keeping collateral damage to a minimum.

If you or a loved one has cancer, learn all the options. Discover more here. CyberKnife maybe the answer to beating your cancer. Call me to discover how I can help win your fight.

Computers Helped Save My Life

The CyberKnife can give 300+ beams of controlled radiation to a lung tumor, all while the patient breathes normally.

“I have cancer growing inside of my lungs. I can’t see it. I can’t touch it. But I know that it is there”, shares John, a computer technologist from West Chester.

John states that the doctors have shown him the medical images of his lungs so that he could see his cancer. “Even though I have seen in CT scans and MRI’s, it is still hard to believe. I thought that my increased congestion was due to allergies. I work with computers all day long, but now computers are helping to save my life.”

In addition to the advanced medical images that diagnosed John’s cancer, the treatment that he chose is also possible because of the advances in computer technology. Surgery was not an option for John because it would have damaged the healthy tissue and was close to his heart. He chose to have radiation therapy with Dr. Ed Hughes instead.

“The fact that we can now use advanced computer imaging during John’s treatment to actually see inside his lungs; has been the biggest medical breakthrough in my 35 year career”, explains Hughes. The CyberKnife’s computers actually track the motion of John’s breathing so that it can deliver the radiation with sub-millimeter precision to only the cancerous tissue.

“Knowing that the doctors could see inside my lungs and that the CyberKnife was so precise and so accurate, helped me to relax. I work. I support my wife and 3 kids. I was not only afraid for my life, but afraid to take off work to recover”, says John. He was able to have 3 CyberKnife treatments that lasted about half an hour each. He was able to keep working and was able to keep up with his active family.

It has been 14 months since his CyberKnife treatments and he is now cancer free. (original blog was in July of 2014)

John shares his enthusiasm, “I have always loved computers. They have fascinated me since I was a teenager and now they have saved my life.”

John was just in to visit with us and he is still cancer free thanks to Dr. Hughes and the CyberKnife. If you want help like John, call Dr. Hughes today.

Elderly Lung Cancer Patients Fear Treatment

CyberKnife is the answer for early stage lung cancer, especially in those older than 70. The decreased complication risks make it ideal.

So many of my elderly patients are now asking whether it’s worth it or not to treat early-stage lung cancer. “I have to die of something!”

But Dr. Walter Curran and colleagues from Emory University School of Medicine may now have a good answer to that important question.  From 2003-2006, the National Cancer Data Base was analyzed for patients 70 years or older with early stage lung cancer who chose either a watch and wait approach or stereotactic radiosurgery, like that delivered by Cyber Knife.  Their findings were reported in the August 2015 Journal of Cancer. The results were striking.  Senior patients with early stage lung cancer treated with stereotactic radiosurgery had better survival than those patients who chose a watch and wait approach.  Importantly, those patients were treated with stereotactic radiosurgery were no sicker initially than those who chose a watch and wait approach.  And they fared much better afterwards.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Like that Delivered by Cyber Knife, May be the Solution to Those Fears 

Stereotactic radiosurgery, like that delivered by Cyber Knife, has produced the same lung cancer control rates as surgery for early stage lung cancer patients, but with far fewer side effects.  No incision.  No pain.  And no hospitalization.  Cyber Knife is done on an outpatient basis.  It’s now considered the standard of care for early stage lung cancer patients who are “medically inoperable” or too sick for surgery.

Recent results indicate that Cyber Knife stereotactic radiosurgery may be just as good as open surgery for medically operable patients, or those patients who are healthy enough for open surgery like lobectomy or video-assisted lobectomy.  In a study in the June 2015 issue of the medical journal Lancet Oncology, Dr. Chang and coworkers reported that early-stage lung cancer patients treated with stereotactic radiosurgery had a 95% survival at 3 years versus only 79% for patients with surgery.  And the complications with open are far more severe.  My conclusion is that Cyber Knife radiosurgery may be just as good as open surgery even for young patients who are fit as a fiddle.

So What’s  a Senior with Early Stage Lung Cancer To Do?

Dr. Jonathan Beitler  of Johns Hopkins, commenting on this study, stated “I have to say that it seems to be the surgical community has resisted a large-scale randomized trial and from their point of view, who could blame them?  On the other hand, are they looking out for the patient’s or for themselves?”  That’s a sobering thought.  While I’ll never comment on another person’s motives, I know that it can take a while before doctors change their practice habits.  After all, it took over 50 years for surgeons to learn that a radical mastectomy just simply didn’t work.  More is not always better.  I do think it’s a good idea, may be even mandatory, for all early-stage lung cancer patients, young or old, to see a radiation oncologist experienced in Cyber Knife before undergoing the cold, hard steel sharp edge of the scalpel.  It just may be in the patient’s best interest.  Each and every week when I see early-stage lung cancer patients in consultation, I have to dispel a lot of myths about Cyber Knife.  In this day of data driven decision making, it’s important to have the facts from a number of sources.
So if you have any questions, please feel free to call me, Dr. Ed Hughes, at 855-DAYTON1

CyberKnife for Early Stage Lung Cancer Continues to be Superior to Surgery

Two years after this study was published, survival rates for lung cancer patients treated with the CyberKnife continue to climb. Lung cancer patients treated with the CyberKnife are simply outliving those who had surgery. This is fantastic news! Read more about the original study here:

Treatment for lung cancer with radiation therapy is proven to be superior to surgery. In a landmark study published in the Lancet Oncology June 2015 16(6) 630-637, cancer specialists reported that early stage lung cancer patients treated with stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR), like that delivered by CyberKnife, had a 3 year overall survival of 95%. Surprisingly, early stage lung cancer patients faired much worse with open surgery (lobectomy) with a 3 year overall survival of only 79%.

CyberKnife treatment stands in stark contrast to surgery. CyberKnife is a highly specialized form of radiation therapy done on an outpatient basis in 3-5 visits, with no pain and no cutting. A lobectomy on the other hand is a major operation where surgeons open your chest and remove an entire lobe of your lung. Requiring a prolonged hospital stay with all the risks of surgery on the chest.

Dr. Joe Y. Chang, a professor of radiation oncology at the world famous M.D. Anderson Cancer Center told Medscape, “For the first time, we can say that the 2 therapies are at least equally effective, and the stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (CyberKnife) appears to be better tolerated and might led to better survival outcomes for these patients.”

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR PATIENTS AND PHYSICIANS TO KNOW?

I believe this study is telling us that CyberKnife is a good solution as compared to open surgery. And a solution that does not require a major operation. No incisions, no pain, and no prolonged hospital stays with a difficult recovery. CyberKnife is painless and quick. You simply lay on a table and relax. No need to even get undressed.

WHAT IS THE CYBERKNIFE ADVANTAGE?

There are other stereotactic systems found at area hospitals. However, the CyberKnife is the ONLY stereotactic radiation device that actually breathes with you. There is no breath holding. This system has real time x-ray imaging that tracks your movement ensuring that it only targets the tumor and spares healthy tissue. This results in fewer long term side effects and offers immediate results.

First Dayton is the ONLY cancer center in southwest Ohio with the CyberKnife system for treating lung cancers. Discover if CyberKnife is the right choice to treat your lung cancer by calling me today, Dr. Ed Hughes at 855-DAYTON1.

Learn more about CyberKnife Treatment for Lung Cancer here.