UT Southwestern treats breast-cancer patient with Accuray CyberKnife System

January 18, 2016

Instead of standard radiation therapy systems that require heavy equipment with very limited maneuverability and beam direction, CyberKnife uses a lighter linear accelerator on a robotic arm to focus multiple beams of radiation with a millimeter precision, while leaving surrounding healthy tissue unharmed.

"The impetus for this protocol is to avoid that invasiveness while still achieving excellent cosmetic results," said Dr. Timmerman, referring to the typical brachytherapy procedure. "This gives the same amount of radiation, but in a noninvasive way. Each [CyberKnife-delivered] beam is very weak, so it causes very little entry damage. It will move around to 200 different positions."

Qualified participants must have localized early-stage breast cancer, must have successfully underwent a lumpectomy and be at least 18 years old. Patients will be evaluated over the next 10 years to check if they remain cancer-free, for potential cosmetic changes in the breast and any unanticipated effects that may develop from radiation treatment.

Dr. Wiginton, referred for the study by Dr. Dan Garwood, associate professor of radiation oncology, said she hopes the procedure will be successful and offer new radiation therapy options for breast-cancer patients.

Because heart disease ran her family, traditional radiation therapy wasn't a good choice for Dr. Wiginton due to potential damage to surrounding tissues, including the heart. CyberKnife's precision greatly lessened that risk.

"If they're willing to use it on brain cancer, I think it's a fairly safe bet to use in a breast," Dr. Wiginton said.

Source UT Southwestern Medical Center