Treatment for Spine Tumors

Treating spine tumors can be tricky because the tumor naturally moves as you breathe. With traditional radiation treatments, this natural movement results in damage to the sensitive spinal cord tissue, while the tumor itself does not receive the optimal amount of radiation to destroy it. As a result, traditional radiation requires many low doses spread out over several weeks or months.

The CyberKnife's advanced technology allows you to breathe normally while on the treatment table, enabling the doctor to zero in on the moving tumor and focus hundreds of radiation beams from different angles, which intersect at the tumor. CyberKnife's accuracy allows for higher doses of radiation delivered in one to five days.

Who is involved with CyberKnife treatment at Baptist Cancer Center? CyberKnife treatments at the Baptist Cancer Center involve a team approach. Your team may include:

What planning occurs prior to CyberKnife treatment at Baptist Cancer Center?

Prior to the treatment, a special custom-fit body cradle will be made for you. The cradle is made of a soft material that molds to your body, ensuring that you remain in the same position for each treatment session and will be comfortable during the procedure.

If the tumor is in the upper cervical region, you may also be fitted for a special face mask. The soft, breathable mask helps keep your head and neck still during treatment. Unlike Gamma Knife masks, the CyberKnife mask is comfortable and painless.

While lying in the cradle, you will undergo a CT scan and possibly an MRI scan or a CT myelogram. This data will be used by the Baptist Cancer Center team to determine the exact size, shape and location of the prostate. Once the imaging is complete, the body cradle will be stored for use during your CyberKnife treatment.

A medical physicist will work with your doctors to devise a treatment plan, using CT and the MRI data or your CT myeogram that will be downloaded into the CyberKnife System's software. The medical team will determine the size of the targeted area, the radiation dose and location of other organs and tissue where radiation should be minimized. Once the plan is complete, you will return to the CyberKnife center for your treatment, which usually takes one to five sessions.

What does CyberKnife treatment at the Baptist Cancer Center involve?

For most patients, the CyberKnife treatment is painless; side effects are minimal and temporary. You may dress comfortably in your own clothes, and we encourage you to bring music to listen to during the treatment.

During treatment, you will lie in your custom body cradle on the treatment couch. If you require a face mask, the radiation therapist will position the mask. The therapist will ensure the cradle is properly adjusted and that you are appropriately positioned on the treatment couch.

You will be monitored via closed circuit television during the treatment and can communicate with your medical team at all times. The CyberKnife System will use X-rays to place you in the proper position and pinpoint the location of your tumor. As you lie on the table, the computer-controlled robot will rotate the radiation source around your body. Throughout the treatment, digital images of the spine will be captured by the image guidance system to verify the tumor location.

You'll be asked to lie as still as possible, but the CyberKnife is designed to detect any movements and will automatically adjust the robotic arm before delivering the radiation. These adjustments allow for precise radiation delivery, minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.

If lying on your back is painful, the doctor may instruct you to take pain medication prior to the CyberKnife treatment in order to minimize any discomfort.

Once the CyberKnife treatment is complete, most patients quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption in their normal activities. If the treatment is being delivered in stages, you will need to return for additional treatments over the next several days. Your radiation oncologist may prescribe medication designed to control any side effects, should they occur. Side effects are generally minimal and temporary.

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