There are essentially three types of technology all bundled under the name stereotactic radiosurgery or SRS that kill cancer cells and treat other medical conditions as well.

They all work similarly in that special equipment focuses small beams of radiation on a cancerous tumor or another type of abnormality. That radiation shrinks the tumor and closes surrounding blood vessels – cutting off blood supply to the tumor – which helps to destroy it. The precision radiation also lowers the risk of damage to healthy tissue and minimizes side effects as well.

The cancer experts at the CyberKnife Center of Miami — a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center in the heart of South Florida — are often asked: “What’s the difference between the types of stereotactic radiosurgery then?”

So, allow us to explain what the differences are. 

But before we do, you should know none of these procedures is invasive as the word ‘surgery’ within radiosurgery suggests. 

They all involve external radiation – an idea born about 73 years ago in 1951 when a Swedish neurosurgeon first introduced the idea of stereotactic radiosurgery with the hope of developing noninvasive treatments in functional neurosurgery.  

However, it was not until 1968 when the concept entered the clinic with the first SRS unit using Gamma Knife, which according to the Mayo Clinic, now use about 200 small beams of gamma rays to target and treat malignant and benign brain abnormalities.

Gamma Knife

As mentioned before, Gamma Knife is primarily used in neurosurgery. 

Nowadays it uses imaging and computers to target small areas of the brain with intense radiation. The Gamma Knife’s beams of radiation converge in three dimensions to focus on a certain area of the head. The Gamma Knife is what’s called frame based. That means a rigid headframe must be attached to a patient’s skull during the treatment for accuracy purposes.

Proton Beam Therapy

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Proton Therapy uses protons – positively charged particles — instead of radiation to target a tumor. With high energy, the protons can kill cancer cells. Proton Beam Therapy is the newest type of stereotactic radiosurgery, according to the Mayo Clinic.  It can be used to treat brain cancers in one session or it can be used to treat other tumors in the body during several sessions.

CyberKnife and Linear Accelerators 

CyberKnife uses a technology called image guided linear accelerator to deliver precision radiation by a robotic arm, according to Accuray, CyberKnife’s maker. 

CyberKnife accuracy is sub-millimetric, which can help significantly reduce the risk of the side effects that too often disrupt the lives of patients during and after treatment,” Accuray states.

CyberKnife therapy can be used to treat lung, liver, spine, neck, kidney, brain lymph node, pancreatic and prostate cancers. It can also be used to treat lymphoma and other conditions – like acoustic neuromas and trigeminal neuralgia — where radiation treatment is necessary. It is also being used in some cases for early breast cancers. 

And with CyberKnife, patients are treated with five or fewer sessions – that is significantly less sessions than with traditional radiation.

CyberKnife Treatment Miami

While each type of SRS has the same end game – killing cancer – the cancer experts at CyberKnife Miami see the CyberKnife advantage every day.

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. Mark Pomper, board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of CyberKnife Miami.

We opened our doors 20 years ago. We were the first CyberKnife center to open in the Southeast United States. 

And we are here to help you as well, whether you come to us first, you are seeking a second opinion, or you are confused about the right treatment for you.

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