What to Expect

An effective, less disruptive treatment option

The CyberKnife® System uses an approach called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), delivering precise high doses of radiation with sub-millimeter accuracy. The CyberKnife system uses an image-guided linear accelerator mounted onto a robotic arm that was specifically designed to deliver SRS. The system automatically synchronizes the delivery of radiation with tumor movement skull motion in real-time throughout treatment. This enables the CyberKnife System to maintain sub-millimeter accuracy, minimizing the dose to healthy and sensitive tissues surrounding the tumor, and reducing the risk of the most common side effects of traditional whole-brain radiation therapy.


Treatment with the CyberKnife System is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that does not require a head frame, incisions or general anesthesia. Most patients will not require hospitalization or a long recovery period. Additionally, CyberKnife treatments are non-invasive and can help avoid the inconvenience and risk associated with radioactive seed implants.


Because treatment with the CyberKnife System can be completed in 1-5 sessions, CyberKnife radiosurgery does not require, most of the time, the interruption of chemotherapy or immunotherapy cycles, making it an excellent option when multi-modality treatment is recommended.


CyberKnife treatment can be completed in as little as 1-5 visits within 1-2 weeks, compared to 15 sessions over 3 weeks with conventional whole-brain radiation therapy.


The CyberKnife System delivers the required radiation dose to the tumor with sub-millimeter accuracy, which can significantly reduce the risk of common side effects of whole-brain radiotherapy, such as fatigue and cognitive impairments to memory and concentration.

A faster return to everyday life

With CyberKnife treatment, the majority of patients can continue normal activity during and immediately following treatment — compared to the typical limitations that come with traditional surgical treatments. And because radiosurgery can greatly reduce the risk of cognitive impairments that can come with traditional whole-brain radiation therapy, the CyberKnife can help you get back to a healthy, full life, sooner.In some circumstances, side effects may occur.

Your CyberKnife treatment process


The CyberKnife treatment process begins with a consultation with a radiation oncologist and/or a neurosurgeon who will provide perspective on this treatment option specific to your condition. The physician will review lab and biopsy results, imaging and other medical conditions.


Treatment with the CyberKnife System involves a multi-disciplinary team approach, which may include several specialists:

  • Neurosurgeon
  • Oncologist
  • Medical Physicist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Medical Support Staff


Unlike other radiosurgery treatments, the CyberKnife System does not require you to be fitted with a rigid and invasive head frame. Instead, you will receive a custom-fitted mesh mask designed to keep your head and neck still during treatment.

Once you are fitted with the mask, imaging — such as CT, MRI and/or PET scans, or an angiogram — will be done to help determine the exact size, shape and location of the brain tumor.


Using imaging data, your treatment team will determine the area to be targeted by radiation, the radiation dose, and identify critical structures – such as the spinal cord or vital organs – where radiation should be minimized.

The medical physicist will then calculate a precision-optimized radiation delivery plan, leveraging the extreme maneuverability of the CyberKnife System to deliver an accurate treatment.


Approximately one to two weeks after your treatment plan is finalized, you will come in for your treatment session(s).

During the treatment session, you will wear your custom-fitted mask, and the CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will move around your body to various locations from which it will deliver radiation. The system will automatically adapt and synchronize the delivery of the radiation beam to the brain tumor or the patient motion.

Treatment sessions are non-invasive outpatient procedures, and nothing will be required of you during treatment. No patient restraints. No breath holds. No anesthesia.


Most patients experience minimal side effects and can quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption to their normal activities during or following their treatment.

Your medical team will discuss all possible side effects prior to treatment and may prescribe medication to control any side effects, should they occur. You also should schedule and attend any follow-up appointments.

Learn More About Side Effects

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Educating others about your experience with the CyberKnife® System can help others who face similar decisions about their own cancer treatment choices.

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Please note: Accuray is the manufacturer of the CyberKnife®, TomoTherapy®, and Radixact® Systems. As the manufacturer, we are unable to provide specific medical advice, view medical records, or schedule appointments.
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Important Safety Statement: Most side effects of radiotherapy, including radiotherapy delivered with Accuray systems, are mild and temporary, often involving fatigue, nausea, and skin irritation. Side effects can be severe, however, leading to pain, alterations in normal body functions (for example, urinary or salivary function), deterioration of quality of life, permanent injury and even death. Side effects can occur during or shortly after radiation treatment or in the months and years following radiation. The nature and severity of side effects depend on many factors, including the size and location of the treated tumor, the treatment technique (for example, the radiation dose), the patient’s general medical condition, to name a few. For more details about the side effects of your radiation therapy, and if treatment with an Accuray product is right for you, ask your doctor.