'When Cancer strikes, it is the end of life' is what we in earlier times used to believe but the same does not hold true today. Cancer can be treated if detected at an early stage. But the conventional surgical treatment procedures have been known to be highly painful and also do not guarantee the complete removal of the cancer cells. Medical science has invested all efforts in minimizing the physical as well as mental trauma by giving birth to advanced noninvasive treatments for cancer. These modern procedures save the patient's time and are almost devoid of side effects because of which the patient can swing back to his daily routine with no worries.
Before we debate upon which is preferable, Gamma Knife or Cyber knife, let us understand both the concepts in brief.
It is a device used in the treatment of Brain tumors with an external beam of Gamma radiation (electromagnetic radiation of high frequency and very short wavelength), at a pre determined dose.
- The size and the position of the tumor are first determined.
- The patient is provided a special stiff helmet/Head frame for two reasons; one is to protect the normal cells of the brain and the other is to keep the brain in a static position when the treatment is on. This is commonly called as a stereotactic system. The procedures involving stereotactic system are generally aided by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), by CT (computerized tomography), by angiography or X-ray techniques with the help of a position determining or referential device based on a Cartesian coordinate system.
- The radiation is aimed at the tumor in the patient's brain. The treatment is highly target specific.
- The patient does not sense the radiation and hence does not experience any pain.
The treatment is commonly called as 'robotic surgery'. It is also a kind of noninvasive radiation therapy. More than a device it is a system that by itself tracks and adjusts the treatment with the aid of software programmed for image guidance. The preparations for the surgery remain the same as in Gamma knife, the only difference being the movement of the patient is not hundred percent restricted in case of Cyber knife.
Gamma Knife Vs Cyber knife
- Application - Gamma knife has its benefits mainly in Brain surgery whereas in other conditions of tumor formation, where respiration causes movement in the tumor, Cyber knife is preferred.
- Treatment mode - Gamma knife makes use of multiple beams from Cobalt as the source, whereas Cyber knife makes use of a single high energy beam with X-rays as the source (more powerful than the beam extracted from Cobalt).
- Accuracy - Though Gamma knife is spoken to be more accurate than Cyber knife, there is no established proof on the same.
- Treatment time - The overall treatment in case of Gamma knife requires just one session after which the patient may return to his normal routine. The Cyber knife procedure requires multiple sessions each of almost an hour.
- Treatment compliance - The head frame that is made use of in Gamma knife is associated with some side effects like nausea and headache because the gear is screwed into the skull for immobilization. Cyber knife is a frameless treatment, making use of a thermoplastic head mask (noninvasive and this makes the technique devoid of side effects.
- Cost - Gamma knife cost of treatment is lower than the Cyber knife cost (ranging from $25000 to $50000). The investment for hospitals to establish Cyber knife is huge and hence the treatment is available with a very limited centers world over.