Sinai Hospital Announces Decade of Cancer Care Advancements as Baltimore’s First CyberKnife Program

Launched as part of the LifeBridge Health Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute in 2003, the CyberKnife Center at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore has reached an important milestone as the first cancer program of its kind in the state, with ten years of long-term clinical analysis of CyberKnife®’s effectiveness and nearly 2,000 patients treated to date.

CyberKnife is a robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat well-defined tumors throughout the body with a procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery, a form of radiation therapy that delivers very precise high doses of radiation to tumors in five or fewer treatments.

“When we started, we were the first CyberKnife treatment program in Baltimore and certainly felt like we were charting new waters. At the time, we were only the third facility on the east coast and the tenth in the nation, giving us the opportunity to become early innovators for the applications of this technology in cancer care,” said Cardella Coleman, M.D., assistant chief of radiation oncology at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute. “Quite a number of us had experience with radiosurgery treatment, so it was more about working with a new technology using a skill set we already had.”

Early on Sinai Hospital physicians became early contributors to research examining CyberKnife treatment for tumors throughout the body, including the treatment of pancreatic and prostate cancers. As a result, Sinai’s CyberKnife program now has some of the most comprehensive and long-term data demonstrating the efficacy of CyberKnife.

As peer-reviewed clinical data has emerged, the types of cancers treated at the center have evolved, expanding to include treatment of tumors in the lungs, prostate and liver, among others. The center continues to offer rare treatment options, including serving as one of the only programs worldwide that offers CyberKnife treatment for pediatric candidates. The center has also seen an increased number of patients with cancer that has spread, or metastasized, from a primary tumor. Through these cases, the team has found that by treating smaller tumors as soon as they appear, patients are recovering faster, preventing progression of diagnoses and even leading to a marked improvement in their health.

This approach allowed Sinai doctors to control the spread of ovarian cancer for patient Bharati Parekh. She was referred to the CyberKnife program when she experienced small tumor growth in other parts of her body. She had already undergone surgery and chemotherapy to treat her ovarian cancer and welcomed the noninvasive option.

“Having CyberKnife as an option for my isolated tumors was very beneficial because I really did not want to go through more traditional surgery,” Parekh said. “I had no side effects and the team was just outstanding. They are not only trained technically, but they are very kind and caring people and to me that element is extremely important.”

Sinai’s CyberKnife program has also served as a resource not only for patient treatment, but also professional training. For the first six years of operation, the center served as an educational hub for physicians across the nation who didn’t have access to the technology. The center’s training program served as one of the first models of the new standard of care stereotactic radiosurgery could provide.

“Having served as a training site for doctors to learn about stereotactic radiosurgery and CyberKnife allowed us to create a standard of care for this form of treatment,” said Jeanette Linder, M.D., chief of radiation oncology at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute. “We want to continue advancing this standard of care through our clinical leadership.”

In 2012, a new CyberKnife system was installed, with capabilities to provide greater accuracy, quicker treatment times for patients and improved avoidance of healthy tissue during treatment.

Additionally, the CyberKnife clinical staff formed a collaborative team of cancer care experts within the LifeBridge Health network to develop a multidisciplinary approach that is now regarded as a best practice in healthcare. This collaboration has integrated CyberKnife into a wide range of advanced therapies that LifeBridge Health offers patients.

“We really stress physician collaboration, so we have a master plan for the patient that all care providers agree upon,” said Linder. “When we are able to offer our patients a choice in their treatment, it allows them to feel more involved and engaged in their care."

Sinai Hospital’s CyberKnife Center is part of the LifeBridge Health Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute, located on the Sinai Hospital of Baltimore campus.  For more information, call (410) 601-WELL or visit the website.

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