Cyberknife’ to treat cancer

Doctors in Britain will for the first time use a robotic radiotherapy machine to treat cancer this week. The machine called Cyberknife is said to be worth 2.5 million pounds. It maps the movement of a patient’s breathing so that tumours can be targeted with greater accuracy than is currently possible. The novel device uses a robotic arm to deliver multiple beams of high-dose radiation from a wide variety of angles. The patient’s breathing is monitored with the aid of X-ray cameras, and the radiotherapy beam is repositioned accordingly to minimise damage to surrounding tissues. This, in turn, makes the therapy so accurate that even tumours in difficult positions and dangerous to operate on, such as near the spinal chord, can be treated safely. Ten people are lined up for treatment in the Harley Street Clinic in London, at a cost per patient of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds. Dr. Nick Plowman, a consultant oncologist at St Bartholomew’s hospital, who will oversee the treatment said “If you get a discreet little tumour in an awkward place, under the liver or next to the kidney, then there’s really nothing better than the Cyberknife.”


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