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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below you will find answers to questions we frequently receive. Cancer patients at CyberKnife Center of Miami in Miami, Florida find this information helpful. Should you need further assistance, please call us at (800) 204-0455, and we will happily answer your questions.

What is the difference between a radiation oncologist and a medical oncologist?

Medical Oncologist

A medical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating people with cancer and is responsible for a patient from the moment of a cancer diagnosis throughout the course of the disease.

A medical oncologist must first complete residency training in internal medicine and then complete a fellowship in medical oncology. The medical oncologist works with the patient and their family to educate them about a cancer diagnosis and their treatment options.

A medical oncologist is also an expert in drug and hormone cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, and will put together a customized chemotherapy plan as needed for their patients.

Often a combination of chemotherapy drugs are used to treat cancers, and the medical oncologist determines which medicines will work best to combat the disease.

Medical oncologists often work in conjunction with other oncology specialists to create an integrated treatment program for patients. This approach is used because cancer treatment frequently involves a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

Radiation Oncologist

Radiation oncology is a medical specialty that involves treating cancer with radiation. Radiation oncologists must first complete residency training in radiation oncology.

Radiation oncologists are the doctors who manage your radiation therapy treatments. The radiation oncologist works with other members of the radiation therapy team such a medical physicist and radiation therapist to develop your treatment plan and make sure that each treatment is given accurately.

The radiation oncologist is also responsible for monitoring your progress and will adjust the treatment plan as necessary to make sure the radiation is effective while minimizing side effects.

Before, during, and after your radiation therapy treatments, your radiation oncologist will work closely with other cancer doctors, such as medical oncologists and surgeons. This ensures the radiation treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy and/or surgery results are optimal.

Radiation therapy uses carefully targeted and regulated doses of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and/or reduce pain. Radiation also works to prevent the cancerous cells from reproducing.

At CyberKnife Center of Miami, our highly trained radiation oncologists are specially trained to irradiate tumors using CyberKnife radiosurgery therapy, also known as SBS and SBRT.

CyberKnife radiosurgery treatment destroys tumors with extremely precise, intense doses of radiation while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This treatment is used to treat tumors of the brain, spine, lung, kidney, liver, prostate, pancreas, and head and neck, as well as metastatic cancers and other functional disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia.

What is stereotactic radiosurgery?

Stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-invasive (non-surgical) treatment in which high doses of focused radiation beams are delivered from multiple directions to destroy a tumor or lesion within the body.

The procedure has been used for more than 30 years, and over 150,000 patients have been treated worldwide.

Radiosurgery does not remove the tumor or lesions. The radiation destroys tumor cells and stops the growth process.

What is image-guided stereotactic radiosurgery?

The CyberKnife system is a distinctive radiosurgery device mounted on a robotic arm. It uses a miniature linear accelerator (linac) to produce high doses of radiation. Through the use of imaging cameras and the Synchrony® Respiratory Tracking System, the CyberKnife locates and tracks the position of the tumor during normal breathing cycles.

The CyberKnife system uses missile guidance technology to deliver multiple beams of radiation while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue with sub-millimeter accuracy.

Learn more about CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery.

How is the CyberKnife system different from other stereotactic radiosurgery systems?

The CyberKnife uses the combination of a robotic arm and image guidance technology for sub-millimeter accuracy. Because of the flexibility of the robotic arm, the system is able to reach areas of the body that are unreachable by other radiosurgery systems.

Unlike other stereotactic radiosurgery treatments, the CyberKnife is able to locate the position of the tumor within the body without the use of an invasive stereotactic head frame as is used in Gamma Knife and linac-based systems.

The CyberKnife system compensates and corrects for patient movement during treatment, constantly ensuring accurate targeting. The Synchrony® Respiratory Tracking System allows the CyberKnife to track organ motion during normal breathing cycles.

What can I expect during a CyberKnife treatment?

All CyberKnife cases are unique. Factors like the patient’s medical condition, ambulatory status, pre-existing conditions, and previous treatments are considered during the planning phase and help the doctors formulate an individualized treatment plan. For example, some patients receive a single session of CyberKnife while others are staged over time.

Patients at the CyberKnife Center of Miami receive one-on-one education both pre- and post-treatment so that they know what to expect during the process.

Learn more about the procedure.

What types of conditions are considered for CyberKnife treatment?

CyberKnife treats benign and malignant tumors anywhere in the body, including:

  • Brain
  • Spine
  • Lung
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Prostate
  • Head & Neck

Learn more about the conditions treated with CyberKnife.

What are the benefits of the CyberKnife?

There are many benefits to a CyberKnife procedure. It is non-invasive, does not require a head frame or painful immobilization device, and it is able to treat areas of the body previously thought to be untreatable.

It is ideally suited for those who are unable to undergo traditional surgery or who do not wish to risk surgery.

Learn more about the benefits of the CyberKnife.

How much does a CyberKnife procedure cost?

All treatment plans are customized to meet the needs of a patient and his or her condition. Some patients can be treated in one session, while others may require multiple sessions. Some conditions require a CT scan for planning, others require different or multiple images.

Some conditions require fiducial placements while others do not. Consequently, until a CyberKnife-trained physician evaluates a particular case, the price cannot be determined.

Self-paying patients are extended a discount provided payment is made on or before the day of treatment. Most insurance plans are accepted.

Will my insurance pay for CyberKnife treatments?

CyberKnife treatments are not experimental and are covered by most insurance carriers. A CyberKnife procedure at the CyberKnife Center of Miami is cost effective, as it is performed on an outpatient basis and does not require hospitalization, anesthesia, or rehabilitation.

Because CyberKnife technology is so specialized, some insurance companies may not be familiar with our services. We ask all of our patients to share their insurance information with us prior to their treatment so we can assist with obtaining pre-authorization and meet coverage requirements.

Our financial counselor is available to assist patients with any questions they may have concerning their coverage and out-of-pocket requirements.

Who determines if CyberKnife is an appropriate treatment?

Your physician or specialist can determine medical necessity after evaluating your condition. The CyberKnife is a unique modality, and only a CyberKnife-trained physician can best determine if it is an appropriate treatment for a particular condition. An experienced CyberKnife physician can offer the best advice and discuss other treatment options with you and your family.

It is not uncommon for cases to be discussed with various physicians, including the patient’s primary doctor, before determining candidacy for CyberKnife treatment.

Can the elderly and children be treated with the CyberKnife?

Because the CyberKnife is less risky than traditional surgery, it may be a suitable option for the elderly or for pediatric cases.

Age is not a crucial factor in excluding patients from CyberKnife treatments. In the case of small children, they must be able to hold still and follow directions to ensure the safety and comfort of the child during treatment.

What physicians can I contact about CyberKnife treatments?

The physicians who use the CyberKnife are trained clinicians in private practice in our community and/or affiliated with a medical center in South Florida. Depending on the condition being considered for treatment, we can assist with an appropriate referral to a specialist who can perform an evaluation.

After treatment, when will my tumor or lesion disappear?

The effects of radiosurgery occur gradually and over a period of time. The timeframe can range from days, months, or years depending on the medical condition targeted. Some tumors dissolve slower than others and eventually disappear, while others simply stop growing and present no further cell activity.

After treatment, patients typically are asked to get periodic images (CT scan or MRI) of their tumor(s) so that their physician can monitor the effectiveness of the radiation.

What are the complications or side effects of CyberKnife radiosurgery?

Complications with the CyberKnife are less prevalent than those found with other radiosurgery modalities or radiation treatments.

After treatment, patients may occasionally experience headaches, nausea, bowel or urinary symptoms, or fatigue depending on the treatment area.

These symptoms are temporary and will resolve in a few days.

How many times can you receive a CyberKnife treatment?

The frequency of treatments depends on where the tumor is located and what type of tumor is being treated. With multiple lesions, CyberKnife is useful because it can treat without damaging surrounding tissues. If there is recurrence in an area already treated with radiation, CyberKnife is useful in subsequent treatments.

Are all CyberKnife centers alike?

The CyberKnife is solely manufactured by Accuray® and is patented for its unique image-guided system and robotic-arm delivery.

CyberKnife centers have their own medical director(s) and can be found in different medical environments, such as universities, for-profit and non-profit medical centers, and private medical practices around the United States.

Some CyberKnife programs only treat specific conditions, while others are open to treating both whole-body and intracranial conditions. CyberKnife Center of Miami has been established since 2003 has successfully treated over 3,000 patients. We were the first CyberKnife center in the southeastern United States and 11th in the world.

Are there CyberKnife patient organizations I can contact for more information?

There are numerous patient organizations that can offer support and education to patients seeking more information on radiosurgery treatment.

Specific to the CyberKnife is the CyberKnife Patient Forum, an online group dedicated to helping others by sharing the personal experiences of patients who have undergone a CyberKnife procedure. Visit the forum.