CyberKnife has been hailed as a ground-breaking piece of radiotherapy equipment: it minimises the side effects of radiotherapy treatment and offers a significant advance in how radiotherapy is delivered. It was first used at The Royal Marsden’s hospital in Chelsea on 18 July 2011.

With CyberKnife, the patient undergoes between one and five non-invasive, pain-free treatment sessions lasting from 15 to 45 minutes each.

A radiotherapy treatment process for prostate cancer could be reduced from seven-and-a-half weeks to just one week, and for lung cancer from six weeks to three days.

Using a robotic arm, CyberKnife treats tumours by delivering multiple doses of highly concentrated radiation beams from almost any angle. Computer-controlled accuracy and tracking technology means we can achieve things we couldn’t do before.

Pinpoint accuracy

The system continuously tracks the patient’s and the tumour’s movement and corrects itself, allowing it to deliver radiotherapy with 0.5mm accuracy. This makes it possible for tumours that were previously hard to reach or even inoperable to be treated. It also allows for minimal damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumour being treated.

Helen Taylor, CyberKnife Lead Radiographer, said: “Patients undergoing standard radiotherapy normally come into hospital for daily treatment sessions for up to two months. This can be quite gruelling and affect their everyday life. For those patients who can receive radiotherapy with CyberKnife, it has really transformed their treatment.

“The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity’s investment in CyberKnife means that these patients can receive increased radiation on each visit thereby reducing the number of times they need to come in. We are very proud of the work we have carried out on CyberKnife to date and are extremely excited about the future. Every day we are learning more and more about its capabilities.”

Worldwide trial

The Royal Marsden is leading international clinical research into the benefits of CyberKnife treatment for cancer contained in the prostate (localised prostate cancer).

The Prostate Advances in Comparative Evidence (PACE) study is a randomised clinical trial that compares CyberKnife treatment to the current standard treatments of surgery and radiotherapy.

Following the PACE study, we hope to have produced data that shows CyberKnife can offer men with localised prostate cancer equivalent, or even better, outcomes compared to standard treatments. We also hope to demonstrate that CyberKnife treatment is effective over a shorter period of time and creates fewer side effects that impact on a patient’s quality of life.

Paediatric radiotherapy

CyberKnife has been used to treat eight paediatric patients including, for the first time in the world, one who was under general anaesthetic.

Five-year-old Harry Parkes was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was just 15 months old. After his tumour relapsed for the second time, the decision was made to treat him with pinpoint-accurate radiotherapy using CyberKnife.

Dr Henry Mandevill, a Consultant Clinical Oncologist, planned Harry’s treatment. He said “It was quite a feat. It took a lot of planning and was a real team effort, but it was worth it to see Harry doing well and back at school.”

Find out more

Download our CyberKnife brochure (PDF) for more information about this technology.

Your support

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity contributed to the cost of CyberKnife.

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“CyberKnife allows us to deliver radiation to patients with pinpoint accuracy, meaning fewer hospital visits.”
– Dr Nick van As, Consultant Clinical Oncologist

Randomised clinical trial comparing CyberKnife to current standard treatments