Moment for Health: CyberKnife is Cutting Edge Technology

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CyberKnife SystemDespite the beautiful mechanics that make up the human body, it doesn’t run forever. Nor does it run perfectly all of the time.

From the simple cold to the most debilitating disease, the body can and does break down. Including a wellness routine and other proactive approaches help keep the body humming in health. But there are times where cancer and other malfunctions bring a reality check that instantly brings doctors, hospitals and treatments together in a challenging path, at times filled with fear and uncertainty.

Yet with each passing day, technology ups its ante and continually brings advancement to the medical field, a blessing to many.

One blessing comes in the form of targeting tumors both benign and malignant, vascular malformations in the brain or spinal cord, functional disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia and cancer all with incredible accuracy.

CyberKnife has been around since the mid-1990s but the technology has progressed where the treatment now delivers beams of high dose radiation to the site with extreme precision while sparing healthy tissue around it.

With a wide range of motion of any radiosurgery system, it delivers radiation to any part of the body precisely and comfortably, even when the target is moving.

Dr. Amanda Schwer, radiation oncologist at Newport Diagnostic Center/Hoag Hospital, helps patients each day by zapping bad cells into submission and elimination using the CyberKnife, all without hurting other tissues around it.

“The procedure is quick and can be done during a lunch hour. All it takes is 15 minutes to an hour and then the patient can drive back to work,” explained Dr. Schwer. It might not take long, but it is extremely effective.

“The pinpoint precision brings lasers from hundreds of directions into a space as small as 5mm,” she stated, “allowing me to hit a tumor, hit it hard yet miss everything around it. It’s a very gratifying thing to do.”

Years back as a little girl, Dr. Schwer had a sister with cancer, which inspired her to become a doctor. She finds working with radiation allows her to use the ever-advancing technology where therapy that once took 30 treatments is now completed in 3 to 5 using this type of technology.

CyberKnife uses high energy x-rays 1,000 to 1,000,000 volts called external beam radiation. It delivers the maximum dose of radiation in the minimum of fractions. Yet patients treated with this system can breathe comfortably and normally during treatment without the discomfort of breath-holding, compression or gating instruments.

Though limited to tumors 5cm or less, it can be given as a boost after or in combination with other treatments.

Dr. Schwer added, “I can get away with areas that have already been treated with radiation, and it is all done in an outpatient setting.”

CyberKnife can treat lesions inside the brain and body, a viable option for those not a candidate for traditional treatment methods.

The procedure is not claustrophobic or painful, leaves no burns and has no restrictions. Newport Diagnostic Center has more years of experience than any other facility in the world using the CyberKnife system except Standford University where it was originally developed.

For more information on the CyberKnife system, visit or phone (949) 760-3025.

Gina can be contacted at [email protected].

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