CyberKnife vs Robotic Surgery: Removing the Fear of Radiation Therapy

by | May 15, 2024 | CyberKnife Center of Miami, Prostate Cancer, Prostate Cancer Treatment Miami, Robotic Surgery

If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer and your doctor recommends surgery over radiation, you may lean toward the invasive procedure because surgery seems less fearful than radiation.

But before you make a final decision, it is important to understand the facts and weigh the risks of radiation versus the risk of surgery.

To make an informed decision, you should understand the side effects of both treatments because the cost of both types of treatments as well as the 12-year relative survival rates are high and similar – about 98%.

Robotic Surgery for Prostate Cancer

First, let us take a look at robotic surgery.

According to an article from the American Urological Association News in February, 90% of radical prostatectomies – or surgeries to remove the prostate after a diagnosis of prostate cancer – are done with robotic assistance. 

The robotic assistance improves patient outcomes because it offers smaller incisions, a reduced chance of infection, a faster recovery, and better cancer control. It does a better job of sparing nerves, which leads to fewer long-term side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

“This approach results in complete removal of cancer for nearly 95 percent of all patients whose cancer is confined to the prostate. In published long-term follow-up studies performed by Mount Sinai Urology Chair Ashutosh (Ash) K. Tewari, MD, this also means that these patients have an extremely good chance (95 percent) of reaching the 10-year survival mark,” according to Mount Sinai.

However, prostate surgery can come with risks like damage to nearby organs, infection, and reactions to anesthesia. It also can lead to side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Older men may have more problems with incontinence than younger men. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 6% to 8% of men who have had surgery to remove their prostate develop incontinence issues.

According to one study from 2017, 85% of men will report problems with erections following a radical prostatectomy.

CyberKnife for Prostate Cancer

Sometimes the right treatment isn’t surgery at all, according to the experts at CyberKnife Center of Miami.

CyberKnife Miami offers a surgical alternative for prostate cancer using a state-of-the-art radiation therapy, known as stereotactic body radiation therapy or SBRT.

“If your doctor tells you, it’s not for you, go to a CyberKnife center and get a second opinion. Maybe it’s not the best treatment for you, but most of the time it is. CyberKnife is the most effective, safest, and quickest way to treat prostate cancer so you can put it behind you and get on with your life,” Dr. Mark Pomper, board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of CyberKnife Miami advises.

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 during their treatment, 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’s why the experts at the CyberKnife Center of Miami – a free-standing radiation treatment center in South Florida – want to help you understand the risks, misconceptions, and benefits of radiation for cancer.

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. 

For instance, many people believe that the entire body receives radiation during treatment. That is simply not true with CyberKnife therapy. CyberKnife kills tumors with targeted precision and accuracy, and it leaves healthy tissue virtually unaffected. 

CyberKnife has few side effects. Its pinpoint radiation beams hit only the tumor, so we can give a much higher dose with a lot fewer treatments, leaving healthy surrounding tissue unharmed. There’s over 20 years of published studies support,” says Dr. Pomper.

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. 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 prior radiation treatment. Plus, if a second cancer does occur, which is rare, it can be successfully treated.

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 a secondary cancer from radiation, he has treated thousands of patients in his more than three decades as a radiation oncologist and he hasn’t seen one case yet, “I’ve never seen a secondary cancer occur from radiation therapy treatments, nor have any members of my highly experienced team.”

Also, patients who have had previous radiation can often be retreated with CyberKnife.

CyberKnife alone can treat prostate cancer, especially if it is low to medium-grade and localized to the prostate. For early prostate cancers, the success rate with CyberKnife is 98%, and CyberKnife treatment has lower risks of long-term side effects including incontinence or erectile dysfunction when compared to traditional radiation and surgical options.

Here are other advantages to CyberKnife:

  • It is non-invasive. 
  • There are no risks of infection or extended periods of downtime like there are with surgery.
  • CyberKnife’s treatments can be done in five therapy sessions over 10 days instead of 42 over three months with other types of radiation treatments.
  • The CyberKnife radiation beams, which target and destroy the tumor, are exceedingly precise, destroying the tumor without destroying healthy surrounding tissue.
  • There are fewer risks of side effects including impotence and incontinence.
  • CyberKnife moves with the patient to make sure the tumor is the only thing targeted.
  • According to Accuray, the maker of CyberKnife, there have been 20,000-plus patients treated for prostate cancer over more than 15 years and close to 100 peer-reviewed articles about CyberKnife.
  • If the cancer returns, it can be treated again.

Side effects of CyberKnife can include tiredness and urinary and rectal irritation. However, over-the-counter medications help minimize these, and they usually resolve themselves in a few weeks. 

CyberKnife Treatment for Prostate Cancer in Miami

At the CyberKnife Center of Miami, we treat prostate cancer patients daily. That is one reason patients from around South Florida and the country turn to us.

Our goal is to partner with you through your treatment journey and make sure you are as comfortable and confident as possible, that you are getting the best treatment for your particular cancer and needs.

If you would like to find out more about prostate cancer treatment with CyberKnife, call us at 305-279-2900 or go to our prostate cancer website now for more information