Radiation is one of the best tools doctors have to kill certain types of cancer. In fact, about two-thirds of all cancer patients will be treated with radiation after their diagnosis, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center. Yet many cancer patients – and quite frankly many people – fear radiation.
The big question: How do you balance that fear with the fact that radiation may save your life?
The answer: Patient education and understanding the risks help overcome the fear.
That is why the experts at the CyberKnife Center of Miami – a state-of-the art, free-standing radiation treatment center in South Florida – want to help you understand the risks, misconceptions and benefits of radiation for cancer treatment.
We know that radiation certainly improves long-term outcomes for many cancer patients.
Yet according to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients still refuse radiation therapy. And those that do have worse clinical outcomes – living about half as long as patients who undergo radiation, according to the research. Patients who refused radiation were generally older, male, and widowed. And those with prostate and colon cancer were more likely to pass on treatment.
Refusal can be based on misconceptions.
Especially with CyberKnife — a non-invasive radiation system for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors as well as other medical issues where radiation may be part of the treatment plan. CyberKnife pinpoints the radiation directly on the tumor with a technology called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) or (SRS) stereotactic radiosurgery.
See for yourself in this CyberKnife Miami video, which shows how CyberKnife targets the tumors by moving around the patient. This precision leaves the healthy surrounding tissue virtually unharmed.
“The radiation we use is so focused that it causes minimal side effects,” says Dr. Pomper, board certified radiation oncologist in a YouTube interview on CyberKnife Miami’s YouTube channel.
CyberKnife can be used on prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas, head and neck, and kidney tumors.
“Accurate and precise delivery helps minimize irradiation of the healthy tissues surrounding tumors and potentially the risk of side effects, which may lead to better quality of life for the patient both during and after treatment,” Accuray, the maker of CyberKnife, states.
Other Radiation Misconceptions
One of the big fears is developing a second cancer from radiation.
And while that is a possibility, research suggests it only happens in 5% of cases, and lifestyle and genetic predisposition may play a greater role than the prior radiation treatment. Plus, if a second cancer does occur, which is rare, it can be successfully treated again.
More importantly, because of advances in radiation therapy – like the targeted approach with CyberKnife — the risk is decreasing. Dr. Pomper says while there is a possibility of secondary cancer from either chemotherapy or radiation, he has treated thousands of patients in his two decades at CyberKnife Miami and has not seen one case yet.
“Both radiation and chemotherapy can lead to secondary cancers,” says Dr. Pomper, who is also the medical director of CyberKnife Miami. “I’ve never seen a secondary cancer occur from radiation therapy treatments, nor have any members of my experienced team.”
“Because it can precisely target tumors, the CyberKnife System may provide a safe radiation treatment option even for some previously irradiated patients,” states Accuray,
And while treatment plans differ based on patients and their cancer, typically only,
one-to-five CyberKnife treatments are all that is needed.
That is because CyberKnife delivers strong, but pinpointed radiation. With CyberKnife, you are finished with your treatments faster than with conventional radiation treatments, which may take weeks to months to complete.
CyberKnife therapy has been used to treat thousands of patients worldwide, and right here in Miami and South Florida. In fact, at CyberKnife Miami, we often see patients who were turned away from other centers and told there was no hope. We always believe there is hope and because of our vast experience we can take on even the toughest cases.
If you would like to find out more about treatment with CyberKnife, call us at 305-279-2900 or go to our website now for more information. www.cyberknifemiami.com.