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FROM THE VAULT: CyberKnife - What a Year and a half Reveals (Spring 2007)

FROM THE VAULT: CyberKnife - What a Year and a half Reveals (Spring 2007)

Healthy Life Magazine - Spring 2007

In Fall 2005, CyberKnife, the latest in stereotactic radiosurgery systems was introduced to the Greater Binghamton region and CyberKnife Center of New York began seeing patients. Now, a year and a half later, more than 150 patients with cancer or inoperable tumors have benefited from the new technology.

"We have seen patients with metastatic lesions of the spine who have already had the maximum conventional treatments and they come to us as a last ditch effort," says Dr. Khalid Sethi, neurosurgeon with Southern NY Neurosurgical Group, PC. "After treatment, when we ask them about their quality of life, they report 80% pain relief within 24-48 hours of CyberKnife treatment."

Initially CyberKnife was used primarily to treat inoperable or untreatable tumors and lesions of the brain and spine. The success rate in these cases is excellent.
"In addition to improving quality of life, we have been able to shrink or control the growth of tumors by more than 90%," says Dr. Sethi. "Our case studies and results have been presented at medical conferences around the world."

CyberKnife uses robotic integration and image-guided technology to deliver high-energy radiation beams from multiple locations outside the body, precisely targeting the location of cancerous tumors or lesions. The system was the first one of its kind in all of New York State.

Recently doctors have begun using CyberKnife to treat soft tissue organs such as the liver, pancreas, and lungs. Soft tissue cancers can be particularly difficult to treat and often inoperable. Most of the patients seen at the CyberKnife Center have already been given a grim prognosis.

"In pancreatic cancer cases we have been able to improve the quality of life of the patient and extend their life span from weeks to 11 months or more," explains Dr. Sethi.

At this point, Dr. Sethi reports, about 50% of the center's patients are being treated for brain or spinal lesions and the other 50% are soft tissue cases - primarily lung, liver and pancreas. Investigational protocols are currently being developed and implemented as well as physician training for prostate cancer, too.

"We coordinate with the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health to develop investigational approaches that take advantage of the unique benefits of CyberKnife treatment," says Dr. Sethi. "Georgetown and Stanford University also work with us as we investigate how this treatment may benefit patients with other forms of cancer."

What that means to local residents is easy access to world-class research and treatment not available anywhere else.

"Our goal is to create a regional neurosciences, neurosurgical center in Greater Binghamton," says Dr. Sethi. "We already have a state-of-the-art facility, with cutting edge technology and partnerships that foster collaboration at the highest levels of science and research."

Despite the success and excitement surrounding CyberKnife, there are still many residents in the area who are not familiar with the treatment facility. "People sometimes don't realize what we have right here at home," adds Dr. Sethi. "I would tell any patient that they owe it to themselves to get a second opinion."

Part of the problem, Dr. Sethi believes, is that doctors are not yet familiar enough with the technology to feel comfortable discussing it with patients, or recommending it to them. In time they hope to change that.

Patient risk is often a factor with traditional surgery. The CyberKnife treatment is completely non-invasive with no incisions needed. It also painless for most patients. When tumors or lesions are located close to critical healthy tissue, such as in the brain and spine or in hard to reach areas, open surgery can be too risky. Recovery time, potential complications, and trauma to the body is also an issue with traditional surgery.

The FDA has approved CyberKnife as the only sterotactic radiosurgery system that can be used anywhere on the body where radiation treatment is indicated and the potential applications for this form of treatment continue to expand.

Khalid Sethi, M.D.
Southern New York Neurosurgical Group, P.C.
46 Harrison St., Johnson City, NY

By: Lisa M. Mayers