What to Expect From CyberKnife: An Effective Alternative to Surgery for the Treatment of Liver Cancer

by | Oct 26, 2023 | Liver Cancer

The unparalleled precision and motion synchronization capabilities of the CyberKnife® System maximize radiation delivered to the target — while helping to minimize dose to surrounding healthy tissues. The result is highly effective treatment that helps to preserve liver function, eliminates many of the inconveniences of other treatments, and significantly reduces the risk of the side effects of open surgery that too often disrupt the lives of patients during and after treatment.



CyberKnife treatment is an outpatient procedure that does not require incisions or general anesthesia. Prior to the initiation of treatment, fiducials will need to be implanted within the liver through a minimally invasive procedure, to track the movement of the tumor. Most patients will not require hospitalization or a long recovery period.


CyberKnife treatment is completed in as little as 1-5 sessions, over 1-2 weeks.


The CyberKnife System delivers the required radiation dose to the tumor with sub-millimeter precision, helping to preserve liver function and significantly reducing the side effects associated with liver surgery.

A Faster Return to Everyday Life

With CyberKnife treatment, the majority of patients can continue normal activity during and immediately following treatment — compared to the typical recovery period that comes with traditional surgery. Just as importantly, the CyberKnife System can help reduce the risk of common side effects associated with surgery, protecting quality of life both during and after treatment. In some circumstances, side effects may occur.

Your CyberKnife Treatment Process


The CyberKnife System treatment process begins with a consultation with a radiation oncologist who will provide perspective on this as a treatment option specific to your condition. The physician will review your biopsy results, imaging and other medical conditions.


Liver cancer treatment with the CyberKnife System involves a multi-disciplinary team approach, which may include several specialists: 

  • Gastroenterologist
  • General Surgeon
  • Medical Oncologist
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Medical Physcist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Medical Support Staff


Tumors will require the placement of fiducials within the liver. Fiducials are markers that show on x-ray to help the CyberKnife System pinpoint the tumor’s exact location. They are implanted in a short, minimally invasive outpatient procedure prior to treatment planning.


Prior to CyberKnife treatment, you will undergo imaging scans so that your treatment team can determine the exact size, shape and location of your liver tumor using the position of the fiducials, as well as nearby anatomy.


As part of the preparation process, you will be fitted for a personalized body cradle designed specifically to make treatment more comfortable for you while ensuring your body position is the same for each treatment session. You will also be fitted with a special vest, which is worn during treatment and enables the CyberKnife robot to synchronize treatment delivery with your natural breathing.


Following these preparatory visits, you will return for treatment planning. Using CT, MRI and/or PET scan data, your treatment team will determine the area targeted by radiation, the radiation dose, and identify critical structures — such as the duodenum or the bowel– where radiation should be avoided.

The medical physicist will then calculate a precision-optimized radiation delivery plan, leveraging the CyberKnife System’s extreme maneuverability to help deliver an accurate treatment.


Approximately one to two weeks after your treatment plan is finalized, you will begin treatment sessions.

There are typically 1-5 treatment sessions of short duration over 1-2 weeks. During treatment, the CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will move around your body to various locations from which it will deliver radiation. At each pre-defined position, it will stop to precisely deliver the dose while correlating your breathing motion with the tumor position.

Treatment sessions are non-invasive outpatient procedures, and nothing will be required of you during treatment. No patient restraints. No breath holds. No anesthesia.


Most patients experience minimal side effects and can quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption to their normal activities.

Your medical team will discuss all possible side effects prior to treatment and may prescribe medication to control any side effects, should they occur. You also should schedule and attend any follow-up appointments. 

Potential Side Sffects of CyberKnife® Treatment for Liver Cancer

Most radiation side effects are minimal and last only a short time. Side effects can, however, be severe. Possible side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Liver pain

    Slower liver function

    Nausea, vomiting

    Fatigue, weakness, lethargy

    Rib pain and/or fracture

    Exposure to nearby tissue, such as the bowel

    Complications due to fiducial marker insertion


Managing Side Effects With Your Medical Team

Prior to beginning CyberKnife treatment, your medical team will discuss all possible side effects and may prescribe medication to control any side effects, should they occur.

Protecting Healthy Tissue — Protecting Quality of Life

Despite the higher dose rate associated with SBRT, multiple studies have validated that CyberKnife SBRT is well tolerated with minimal side effects. Unlike any other radiation treatment, the CyberKnife System continually tracks the target and automatically corrects the radiation beam for movement of the tumor in real-time through the entire treatment session. With this automatic motion tracking and synchronization, the CyberKnife System enhances your treatment team’s ability to maximize the radiation dose delivered to the tumor — while minimizing dose to surrounding healthy tissues — which can help preserve liver function and reduce the risk of side-effects that can impact quality of life both during and after treatment. The majority of patients can continue normal activity during and immediately following treatment.

At CyberKnife Miami we have successfully treated liver cancer patients for 20 years. Call our highly experienced team for a consultation to see if you are a candidate for this non-invasive procedure. The CyberKnife cuts out cancer without cutting into the body. You can reach us at 305-279-2900.