By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
BAHAMIAN men suffering from prostate cancer can now consider looking into an alternative type of radiation treatment as doctors in Miami, Florida share insight into a non-invasive treatment called CyberKnife Radiosurgery.
According to the website cyberknifemiami.com, treatment with the CyberKnife is shorter and less invasive, and it reduces some or all of the more common side effects of traditional prostate cancer treatments.
Since opening more than a decade ago, the staff and physicians at the CyberKnife Centre have treated more than 3,000 patients with all types of cancerous and non-cancerous conditions.
Radiation oncologist at CyberKnife Miami, Dr Silvio Garcia said what makes the machine so special is the fact that the technology has been developed to where they can give high doses of highly focused radiation to very specific parts of the body and avoid treating adjacent organs and tissues.
“We were the first centre in the south-eastern United States to have this piece of equipment. Since we have gotten this piece of equipment, it has been updated five times. The treatments usually take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on the area of the body, the dose of radiation, and the compliance of the patient. If the patient moves beyond the ability of the robot to correct for motion, the machine stops. That is why we are able to deliver our radiation with an accuracy of plus or minus one millimetre,” said Dr Garcia.
He said the machine is also able to treat illnesses such as brain tumours, throat cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, spinal tumours, acoustic neuromas and meningioma.
The website stated that the treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s age and overall health.
“In select cases, men with very slow growing prostate cancer who are older or have other major health problems may forgo treatment initially. Instead, doctors closely monitor their cancer growth and symptoms. For men who are at higher risk, traditional treatment routes include surgery, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, hormone therapy and in some cases chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the side effects from these methods can be harsh and emotionally difficult for some men. The type of side effects that you experience may depend on the type of treatment or combination of treatments that you receive. Side effects may include impotence, sterility, incontinence, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, fatigue, low blood counts, an increased risk for infection and bleeding,” the centre said.
Dr Garcia said the beauty of the machine also stems from having over 1,000 different positions to which to deliver radiation from. He said they can treat in many cases, not all of course because every patient is different, tumours that have been previously treated. He describes it as “one more weapon in the war against cancer.”
“Traditional radiation therapy for prostate cancer usually takes about eight weeks, five days a week. We can deliver this radiation in five treatments. However, not every patient that walks in the door is a candidate for the CyberKnife. You have to be clinically evaluated and it depends on how big the tumour is. We have to make sure that the tumour has not extended or spread beyond the limits that we can do with the CyberKnife,” said Dr Garcia.
Dr Garcia said he is grateful for persons spreading information about CyberKnife in the Bahamas because it is important and they want to get the word out to as many persons as possible.
“This is something that can help a lot of people. The vast majority of our patients were extremely happy about it. The CyberKnife is not a magic bullet or a cure-all, but we have a number of patients with extremely good results. We had a guy that came in for a treatment one morning and got married later on that evening. These treatments are very well tolerated,” said Dr Garcia.