Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, which is the part of a man’s reproductive system that helps produce semen. It is located under the bladder, behind the rectum and surrounds the urethra, which is a tube that urine passes through.
Cancer develops when cells begin to grow abnormally in the prostate. Prostate cancer is very common in men older than age 50. For some men, prostate cancer does not produce symptoms. For others, prostate cancer can cause difficulty urinating, blood in the urine and pain in the lower back and pelvis.
Treating Prostate Cancer with CyberKnife® Radiation
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is the busiest CyberKnife center for treating prostate cancer in the world. We treat hundreds of patients each year, and so we understand the range of issues and concerns that can arise.
Surgery and conventional radiation are common treatments for prostate cancer. But, the prostate is a moving target—it moves when urine fills and then empties from the bladder, and when air moves into the rectum. This movement makes accessing the prostate—during either surgery or conventional radiation—without affecting surrounding healthy tissue a great challenge.
CyberKnife offers a convenient, effective and minimally invasive alternative. It uses computers and imaging tools to find the exact location of the tumor. The technology tracks the movement of the prostate and the tumor as a patient breathes and as other bodily processes occur. The tool operates with enough precision and accuracy to allow doctors to focus radiation on the tumor itself—and not on any surrounding healthy tissue.
Preparing for CyberKnife Treatment
We offer you a team of experienced specialists to guide you through all aspects of CyberKnife treatment.
Before you have CyberKnife treatment, you may need:
- Fiducials – Fiducials are tiny gold seeds that guide the CyberKnife tools to the exact location of your tumor. Your doctor will implant about three to five rice-sized fiducials through a needle into your prostate during an outpatient procedure in preparation for your CyberKnife treatment. You may need to use an enema to cleanse your system before the fiducial procedure.
- Custom body cradle – This piece will help you feel more comfortable during any pre-treatment imaging procedures, as well as during the CyberKnife procedure itself. It also keeps your body from moving too much so that all procedures will be as precise as possible.
- Imaging – You will need to have a computed tomography (CT) scan, which creates a detailed picture of your prostate tumor, as well as nearby healthy organs like the bladder and rectum, using computers and x-rays. The CT scan will give the CyberKnife the information it needs to pinpoint the exact size, shape and location of your tumor—and to avoid exposing the healthy surrounding organs and tissues to unnecessary radiation.
During CyberKnife Treatment
Before the treatment, our team will help you put on your custom body cradle. During the treatment, all you will have to do is lie still on a table. A robotic arm will move around your body delivering radiation beams to your tumor. You should not feel any discomfort, and nothing will touch you directly. You are generally free to return to your regular schedule following the procedure.
After CyberKnife Treatment
Most prostate cancer patients will receive five CyberKnife treatments over the course of one week. After treatment, you should be able to return to your normal daily activities. Following the fourth treatment, you may feel fatigue, as well as urinary and bowel frequency. Other side effects may include nausea or diarrhea, but are generally less intense than with traditional radiation.