By the end of 2011 there will be five Cyberknife Radiotherapy Machines in the UK (and three of these will be in the NHS), therefore, it will be increasingly available to cancer patients. Consequently as I am someone who has had this treatment, I thought some might find it useful if I explained how it differs from conventional radiotherapy, and why it is so important in the treatment of cancer.
How does Cyberknife differ from Conventional Radiotherapy ?
Cyberknife Radiotherapy differs from conventional radiotherapy in several respects. Conventional radiotherapy is delivered in a single, wide angled beam, from a static set position. Cyberknife is delivered via a robotic moveable arm that fires thousands of narrow radiotherapy beams from numerous angles. Conventional radiotherapy does not adjust it's position during treatment. Cyberknife takes thousands of images of the patient during treatment, which are fed back to the computer - which in turn makes miniscule adjustments to allow for tiny movements.
Conventional radiotherapy is usually delivered by short sessions over a number of weeks. Cyberknife is usually delivered in three to five sessions, which last around two hours, because it is so precise, it can be used at a much higher dose.
Why it is so important in the treatment of cancer ?
Because Cyberknife works in the way described above, it is super precise, and unlike conventional radiotherapy, does not harm healthy tissue. As a result it can be used on areas of the body that would usually be considered risky for Conventional radiotherapy (such as the Brain, Liver, Lungs Kidneys and Spine). Also, unlike Conventional radiotherapy, which is most frequently used for palliative purposes, Cyberknife can be used at a dose that can potentially destroy tumours. Consequently, while it cannot cure cancer, it can delay progression, and the point where patients become dependent on expensive chemotherapy just to stay alive.
Unfortunately, at the moment many PCT's are refusing to fund Cyberknife, claiming that it is not clinically, or cost effective. But if that is the case why have Mount Vernon NHS Hospital just spent three million pounds purchasing a Cyberknife Machine - and why are NHS Hospitals ( the Royal Marsden and St. James Hospital), spending another six million pounds to purchase machines in 2011 ?
Furthermore, in my case twenty four of the UK's leading Doctors (including three Professors of Oncology), concluded that Cyberknife would be beneficial - are the PCT's suggesting that these Doctors don't know what they are talking about?
Finally, at the end of the day, Cyberknife is successfully used worldwide, and has been the subject of over four hundred peer reviews. Even more than this, it is a form of radiotherapy, and radiotherapy is a proven treatment for cancer.
Please pm if you require any further information, as I am now campaigning to end the postcode lottery so that all NHS patients get can benefit from this life saving treatment.