CyberKnife Center Opens at Saint Vincent Hospital

WORCESTER — Saint Vincent Hospital recently acquired the CyberKnife VSI Robotic Radiosurgery System and opened a CyberKnife Center in January.

With sub-millimeter accuracy, the CyberKnife treats inoperable tumors non-invasively and painlessly anywhere in the body using image-guided technology to deliver high-dose radiation to the tumor with pinpoint precision, while keeping the dose of radiation to surrounding normal tissue to an absolute minimum. This ’stereotactic radiosurgery’ (surgery without a scalpel or anesthesia) is carried out jointly by radiation oncologists and surgeons.

According to Dr. Mark Brenner, chief of Radiation Oncology, “the CyberKnife will provide our surgeons with the choice that achieves the best possible outcome with the least risk — if best removed surgically in the operating room, they are still free do do so, but if they believe that the surgery is too risky, they can now manage it non-invasively, jointly with a radiation oncologist, using the CyberKnife.”

Brenner, who is leading the CyberKnife Center, has extensive CyberKnife experience dating back to 2003, having treated nearly 600 patients and trained nearly 200 physicians before coming to Saint Vincent’s from Baltimore.

The CyberKnife can be used to treat brain and spine tumors, both malignant and benign, including acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, brain and spinal metastases, the painful neurologic condition known as trigeminal neuralgia, and a number of others. It will be used to treat early lung cancers in patients with poor lung function, locally advanced and inoperable pancreatic cancers, and metastatic lesions from traditionally radiation-resistant cancers such as renal and melanoma. CyberKnife is also proving to be a highly effective and exciting alternative to both surgery and traditional irradiation for early prostate cancers.

Most courses of CyberKnife radiosurgery require one to three treatment sessions (prostate requires five treatments, compared to 40-45 for traditional radiation), and are all performed on an outpatient basis with no need for anesthesia or to attach invasive immobilization frames onto the skull.There is no recovery, healing, or recuperation time and minimal to no restrictions after the procedure; it also allows essentially immediate return to normal activity.

Saint Vincent Hospital is the only Cyberknife Center in Central Massachusetts, and will have a CyberKnife VSI 9.4.4 system with lung-optimized treatment software that will make it one of the most advanced systems on the East Coast. The acquisition of the CyberKnife and the building of a new cancer center demonstrates Saint Vincent Hospital’s commitment to provide state-of-the-art, high-quality, and affordable care to its community.

Patients who must now be referred to Boston, Rhode Island, or Connecticut (and occasionally as far away as Baltimore) will now be able to receive stereotactic body radiosurgery in their community, under the continued care of their primary physician, specialists, and surgeons.