Frequenty Asked Questions

This will answer many of your questions. For more information, please contact your doctor or the CyberKnife coordinator.

How is the CyberKnife System Different from Other Stereotactic Radiosurgery Systems?
The CyberKnife system uses the combination of a robotics and image guidance to deliver concentrated and accurate beams of radiation to intracranial and extracranial targets, many of which are inoperable with sub- millimeter accuracy. The robotic arm is highly flexible, allowing access to tumors in difficult-to-reach locations.

The CyberKnife, unlike other stereotactic radiosurgery systems, is able to locate and track the position of the tumor without the use of an invasive stereotactic head frame or stereotactic body frame. The system compensates for the patient’s respirations and movement during treatment, constantly ensuring accurate targeting for the delivery of radiation beams.

Is CyberKnife only for brain tumors?
Unlike previous, more conventional methods of radiosurgery, CyberKnife treats tumors throughout the body – including the head, spine, lungs, prostate, liver, and pancreas. All without the need for any cutting. In some cases markers are needed for treatment purposes.

What are the benefits of the CyberKnife?
There are many benefits to a CyberKnife procedure. It is non-invasive, does not require a headframe or painful Immobilization device and it is able to reach areas of the body previously thought untreatable. It is ideally suited for those who are unable to undergo surgery or who do not wish to risk surgery.

Who determines if CyberKnife is an appropriate treatment?
Medical necessity can be determined by your physician or specialist after evaluating your condition. The CyberKnife is a unique modality and as such only a CyberKnife trained physician can best determine if it is appropriate treatment for a particular condition. An experienced CyberKnife physician can offer the best advice and discuss other treatment options with you and your family. It is not uncommon for cases to be dis- cussed with various physicians, including the patient’s primary doctor, before determining candidacy for CyberKnife treatment.

How do I know if I can be treated with the CyberKnife?
To see if you are a candidate for the CyberKnife treatment, please talk with your doctor. You may be referred to a CyberKnife-trained physician who can evaluate your condition, as well as discuss other treatment options with you and your family. Physicians meet weekly to discuss cases being considered for CyberKnife treatment. You may be notified of the outcome of this review, and an appointment can be made to plan your individualized treatment.

Who will be involved in my treatment?
We utilize a team approach in your treatment decision, planning and delivery of treatment, where medical experts collaborate with the patient as their central focus. Team members will include your surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, physicist and nurse, along with other members within the hospital. There are radiation oncology therapist especially trained in CyberKnife treatment delivery that are a part of the team as well.

What does treatment feel like and how long does it take?
Treatment is painless. You will not feel anything as the radiation is delivered. You may hear and see the CyberKnife machine moving and setting up for the next position in treatment. Relaxing is the best thing you can do, while lying still. You can bring a CD of relaxing music to listen to during your treatment.

Time of treatment will vary, depending on the area being treated. Each stage or fraction, typically lasts one hour. You may need only one fraction, while others require up to 5 fractions for most effective treatment. Your doctor will tell you how long the treatment will take.

Is CyberKnife clinically proven?
The CyberKnife System is based on radiation technology that has been proven for more than 30 years. Thousands of patients have received CyberKnife treatments worldwide, and numerous clinical studies have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

After Treatment, when will my tumor or lesion disappear?
The effects of radiosurgery occur gradually and over a period of time.  The timeframe can range from days, months or even years depending on the medical condition targeted.  Some tumors change slower than others and eventually disappear.  Others simply stop growing and present no further cell growth or activity.  After treatments patients typically are asked to get periodic images ( CT Scan or MRI) of their tumor(s) so that their physician can monitor the effectiveness of the radiation.

What are the complications or side effects of CyberKnife radiosurgery?
Complications may occur but the frequency and severity are typically mild. The complications tend to relate to the region that is receiving treatment.  There are symptoms that may occur regardless o fthe region receiving treatment. After treatment sometimes patients experience headaches or feel nauseated or tired.  These symptoms are typically temporary.  Uncommon complications may include skin reddening or vomiting.  Delayed symptoms may include swelling, inflammation, or scarring in the treatment site or adjacent normal tissue regions. Specific side effects vary with the site that is being treated. We urge you to speak with your physician prior to proceeding with treatment.

How many times can you receive a CyberKnife treatment?
The frequency of treatments depend on where the tumor is located and what type of tumor is being treated. Most cases can receive multi-treatments or be retreated with the CyberKnife.

Is CyberKnife Treatment covered by Insurance?
The CyberKnife procedure, like other stereotactic radiosurgery, is generally covered by most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  Because CyberKnife is new to our region, some insurance companies my not be familiar with our services.  We ask all of our patients to share with us their insurance information as we can assist with obtaining pre-authorization to meet coverage requirements.

Are there CyberKnife patient organizations I can contact for more information?
The CyberKnife Patient Support Group, is a non-profit organization established in July 2001 and dedicated to helping others by sharing the personal experiences of patients who have undergone CyberKnife procedure.  Note that the group has moved to a new home that has been redesigned and updated with new information and functionality. All of the old posts are also available (as read only) in the new Patient Forum under “Archived Posts”. Please visit to see what's new!

Are patients allowed to eat or drink before CyberKnife treatment?
Yes, it will not affect your treatment at all.