What to Expect

An effective, less disruptive treatment option

The CyberKnife® System is an image-guided linear accelerator mounted to a robotic arm that was specifically designed to deliver SBRT. It is the precision of the system, delivered by its robotic arm, and continual tracking and automatic synchronization of the radiation beam to the tumor in real-time throughout treatment, that makes such a difference for patients. The treatment eliminates many of the inconveniences of other treatments — and significantly reduces the risk of the side effects that too often disrupt the lives of patients during and after treatment.


Treatment with the CyberKnife System is an outpatient procedure that does not require incisions or general anesthesia. Most patients will not require hospitalization or a long recovery period. CyberKnife treatment also eliminates the inconvenience and risk associated with seed implants.


CyberKnife treatment can typically be completed in as little as 3 to 4 sessions over 1 to 2 weeks, compared to 20 to 30 sessions over 4 to 6 weeks with conventional radiation therapy.


The CyberKnife System delivers the required radiation dose to the lung tumor with sub-millimeter accuracy, significantly reducing incidence of many of the most common side effects of lung radiotherapy, such as shortness of breath. swallowing difficulties or sore throat.

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 requirements to limit normal activity several weeks with traditional surgery. Importantly, the CyberKnife System reduces the risk of common side effects, protecting quality of life both during and after treatment. In some circumstances, side effects may occur.

Your CyberKnife treatment process


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


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

  • Thoracic Surgeon / Pulmonologist
  • Interventional Radiologist
  • Medical Physcist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Medical Support Staff


Prior to CyberKnife treatment, you then will undergo imaging scans so that your treatment team can determine the exact size, shape and location of your lung tumor, as well as nearby anatomy.


Some tumors may require the placement of fiducials within the lung. Fiducials are markers that show on X-rays to help the CyberKnife System pinpoint the tumor’s exact location. They are implanted in a short outpatient procedure prior to treatment planning.


As part of the preparation process, you may be fitted for a personalized body cradle designed specifically to make treatment more comfortable for you while ensuring body position is the same for each treatment session. You will also be fitted with a special vest, which is worn during treatment and enables the CyberKnife robot to adapt and synchronize treatment delivery with your natural breathing.


Following these preparatory visits, you will return for specific imaging for radiation therapy and treatment planning. Using CT, MRI and/or PET scan data, your treatment team will determine the area to be targeted by radiation, the radiation dose, and identify critical structures — such as the heart, trachea or vital organs – where radiation should be minimized.

The medical physicist will then calculate a precision-optimized radiation delivery plan, leveraging the CyberKnife System’s extreme maneuverability to help deliver a safe and accurate treatment.


Approximately one to two weeks after your treatment plan is finalized, you will begin treatment sessions.

There are typically 3 to 4 sessions of short duration over one to two weeks. During treatment, the CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will move around your body to various locations from which it will deliver radiation. At each pre-defined position, it will stop to precisely deliver the dose while correlating your breathing motion with the tumor position.

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.