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New instrument offers ‘most painless cancer treatment’

“I have patients who ride in on their bicycles for treatment and then ride back home. It’s the most non-invasive and painless form of cancer treatment yet,” Dr John Adler,who has pioneered the CyberKnife...

Written by Mandakini Gahlot | New Delhi |
March 15, 2009 1:40:37 am

“I have patients who ride in on their bicycles for treatment and then ride back home. It’s the most non-invasive and painless form of cancer treatment yet,” Dr John Adler,who has pioneered the CyberKnife,a radiotherapy instrument that allows oncologists to treat most tumours painlessly without performing an operation,said.

Adler,a professor of neurosurgery and radiation oncology at Stanford University,studied in Stockholm under Lars Leksell,who is acknowledged as the father of radiosurgery as a form of treatment for Cancer. “Developing the technique took almost 20 years. I spent a lot of time studying under Leksell and thought the process could be improved. That took me to Stanford,where we eventually developed the CyberKnife technology,” Adler said.

Adler,often acknowledged as the “father of image-guided irradiation”,is in India to launch the CyberKnife treatment. The Apollo Hospital in Chennai has become the first hospital in the country to provide treatment using the CyberKnife technology. Priced at a steep Rs 30 crore,Adler believes the equipment is worth every penny and more. “To start with,it’s a painless form of cancer treatment. Also,in the same time that it would take to perform surgery on a cancer patient,doctors can now carry out three to four CyberKnife treatments,” he said.

CyberKnife combines robotics with radiation. Pencil beams of radiation are directed by a robotic arm to any part of the body where a tumour may have developed. “One of the biggest advantages of using CyberKnife is that it can be used to treat tumours that were considered inoperable. It’s also more accurate — if the tumour were to move or the patient were to make any movement while treatment is on then the radiation will adjust itself accordingly,” a senior doctor at Apollo Hospitals said.

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The tumour is targeted with multiple beams of high energy radiation,destroying abnormal tissue without damaging the surrounding areas. According to Apollo Hospitals,with the use of Adler’s CyberKnife technology they will now be able to treat any brain tumour in less than 16 minutes and any body tumour within 30 minutes over three to five sessions.

“To start with,it stops the tumour from spreading to other parts of the body and then goes about eradicating it,” a senior doctor said.

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