RandyW Posted January 8, 2009 Share Posted January 8, 2009 Speedy recovery: Stamford Hospital uses CyberKnife to treat cancer By Devon Lash Staff Writer Posted: 01/06/2009 02:47:57 AM EST Doug Walker, a school bus driver, underwent CyberKnife treatment for his prostate cancer at Stamford Hospital. He said he returned to work sooner than he would have with traditional treatment. CyberKnife delivers accurate beams of radiation to eradicate tumors. (Paul Desmarais/Staff photo)STAMFORD - Doug Walker dressed for the first bout of radiation for prostate cancer like he was going to the beach - Hawaiian shorts, sneakers and a T-shirt. After the four-hour session of radiosurgery at Stamford Hospital's Tully Health Center, Walker, 59, headed to the beach. "I jumped in the water and went swimming," the Stamford man said. "I never felt like a cancer patient." Walker is one of about 52 patients who have been treated with CyberKnife technology since it began to be offered in June, said Dr. Frank Masino, the director. CyberKnife delivers accurate beams of radiation to eradicate tumors. "Some of the patients we treat today, up until six months ago I would have had to sincerely say I can't do anything for you because we didn't have that ability," Masino said. "It does not replace conventional radiation or surgery. But it complements it. It's another tool for cancer treatment." More than 50,000 patients have been treated worldwide by CyberKnife, according to the manufacturer, Accuray. The system creates a treatment plan based on images from CAT scans and MRIs, said Dr. Sean Dowling, a radiation oncologist at the Bennett Cancer Center and the CyberKnife Center. The patient lies on the hard surface beneath the machine while CyberKnife, mounted on a robot, takes constant X-ray images of the tumor, comparing it to the treatment plan, Dowling said. The system can make sub-millimeter corrections in six directions, he said. Once lined up properly, it delivers high-dose beams of radiation, sparing the surrounding tissue, Dowling said. Patients can be treated as outpatients for an average of one to five visits, with noanesthesia or rigid immobilization, he said. The minimal recovery time enticed Walker, a driver for Student First, a bus company that transports special-education students. "I wanted to wait until the (school) year ended," he said. "The kids get used to you." Within two weeks, he said he was back at the gym and did not miss a single day of work. Depending on the type and severity of the cancer, the treatment can be as effective as conventional surgery, Dowling said. "There is good evidence radiosurgery can be as effective for some brain metastasis, but in other places in the body, conventional surgery is more effective," he said. "For patients that cannot have conventional surgery, this is certainly a reasonable alternative." The treatment is not a miracle cure, he said. "Unfortunately, there are situations and conditions that can't be treated," Dowling said. "For instance, esophageal cancer is not suitable for CyberKnife." CyberKnife requires nearly exact tracking of the tumor, and the esophagus can't be tracked closely enough for it to be safe, he said. Sometimes, CyberKnife can't destroy the root of a disease and acts like a Band-Aid. Drew Stephansen, 68, of Brookfield, worked in construction until he retired in August after his third round of chemotherapy for late-stage lung cancer. Doctors found in April that the cancer had metastasized to his brain. Like the tumor in his lung, it was inoperable with conventional surgery, but doctors decided to use CyberKnife. "It was not like any hospital experience I ever had," said Stephansen, one of the first patients at the CyberKnife Center. "There was no physical invasion. It basically cut out the tumor by radiation." A single hour-longCyberKnife procedure did what eight rounds of chemotherapy could not - it shrunk the tumor in his brain, he said. "You can look at the X-rays and see the difference yourself," Stephansen said. Because it is wrapped around his bronchial tube, the tumor in his lung is not a candidate for radiosurgery, he said, but at least the brain tumor is "one less thing I'm going to die from." - Staff Writer Devon Lash can be reached at email@example.com or 964-2242. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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