By Kathy L. Collins

Brandon Regional Hospital held a ribbon cutting ceremony in early March and unveiled its newest weapon in the fight against cancer, CyberKnife. For cancer patients and others with benign tumors, the CyberKnife Radiotherapy System allows doctors to focus the radiation with a tiny beam. This allows for a higher dose of radiation to a specific area. 
The Medical Director for the CyberKnife Cancer Center at Brandon Regional Hospital is Robert S. Lavey, M.D., M.P.H. He is a Board Certified Radiation Oncologist who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned his medical degree at Stanford University. He also has a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to moving to Brandon to work at the Center for Radiation Oncology in 2008, Dr. Lavey served as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Radiation Oncology at the University of Southern California for 13 years.
According to Lavey, “This is the only machine that uses advanced robotics and image-guidance to keep its radiation beam focused on tumors that move when the patient breathes or shifts position.  This allows us to give more radiation to the tumor in a shorter time that conventional radiation therapy.”
With traditional radiation, you have a wide margin of error. As such, traditional treatment ends up damaging a lot of healthy cells, explained Lavey. 
While CyberKnife does not replace standard radiation for all patients, it does allow doctors to treat where you could not previously. Lavey explained that a  patient who has a tumor in the brain, lung, trunk or spine, can now receive a highly effective dose of radiation to the tumor with minimal effects on the delicate normal cells in the surrounding brain, nerves, and organs.
CyberKnife technology was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1999 for treatment of tumors in the head.  In 2001, the technology was cleared to treat tumors anywhere in the body.  Worldwide, there are 150 CyberKnife treatment machines in clinical use.
Because CyberKnife is non-invasive and concentrates the radiation to an area close to the tumor, there are minimal to no side effects.  Additionally, because the radiation is so tightly focused, the course of treatment lasts one to five days as opposed to one to two months for standard radiation treatment.
 “Having the CyberKnife Cancer Center in Brandon gives patients access to the most technologically advanced radiation therapy system in the world right in their community,” notes Melonie Hall, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Brandon Regional Hospital.  “They can drive in from their home for treatment daily, and their local doctors can participate in their radiation treatment and offer care,” added Hall.
Patients who want to determine whether CyberKnife treatment is appropriate, can be referred by their physicians or can contact the Center directly at 571-6464 and speak with the Cyber Nurse, Brenda Bailey
Patients in the Brandon area are indeed lucky, as the community has two machines in operation.  In addition to the one at the CyberKnife Cancer Center in the Brandon Medical Plaza at 425 S. Parsons Ave., there is one located at New Millennium CyberKnife at 601 Lumsden Professional Ct., Brandon.  For more information on the CyberKnife Cancer Center, call  571-6464 or visit www.cyberknifeflorida.com.  For more information on New Millennium CyberKnife, visit www.newmillenniumcyberknife.com.

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Marie Gilmore
Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!