A greater number of men in Oklahoma are now able to receive cancer care from Oklahoma CyberKnife due to expanded Medicare coverage for prostate cancer patients.
Oklahoma CyberKnife began offering CyberKnife® treatment to prostate cancer patients with commercial insurance when it opened in 2008 as a service of Hillcrest Medical Center. Last year, the center expanded access to CyberKnife treatment following a policy change by the regional Medicare contractor. The policy update extended coverage of CyberKnife treatment to Medicare patients with prostate cancer, provided they’re enrolled in a clinical registry.
In addition to treating an increased number of patients since the Medicare policy change, Oklahoma CyberKnife, with the advantage of only five treatments, has drawn approximately 50 percent of its patients from greater than twenty miles away, including patients from Kansas and Missouri. In only the first four months of 2013, Oklahoma CyberKnife has treated nearly the total number of prostate cancer patients treated last year.
“The need for Medicare patients to have fair access to available treatment options like CyberKnife is particularly important because patients may require an alternative to surgery or other types of radiation therapy with lengthy treatment courses,” said Dr. Diane Heaton, medical director of Oklahoma CyberKnife. “CyberKnife offers a nonsurgical option that has minimal side effects.”
Oklahoma CyberKnife treats prostate cancer patients with a procedure called robotic stereotactic body radiation therapy. The robotic CyberKnife technology delivers precise, high-dose radiation to tumors in five or fewer sessions.
CyberKnife has an added benefit when treating prostate cancer. Unlike conventional radiation therapy systems, CyberKnife tracks the tumor in real time and adjusts for natural patient movement, like breathing or bladder filling, during treatment. This means radiation is delivered directly to the tumor and exposure to healthy surrounding tissue is minimized.
“Results from clinical trials show stereotactic body radiation therapy delivered by CyberKnife is an effective method for treating prostate cancer,” said Dr. Heaton. “The convenience and ease of treatment is also an attractive element for men seeking treatment.”
A study presented at the recent Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology showed men with organ-confined prostate cancer can be treated successfully with stereotactic body radiation therapy. The multi-center study evaluated low-risk, intermediate-risk and high-risk patients for up to four years following treatment. At the five-year mark, the relapse-free survival rate was 95 percent for low-risk patients, 90 percent for intermediate-risk patients and 80 percent for high-risk patients.
In addition to prostate cancer, Oklahoma CyberKnife treats malignant and benign tumors in the brain, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidney and orbit of the eye. Stereotactic body radiation therapy with CyberKnife may not be an appropriate treatment for all prostate cancer patients. Men are encouraged to consult with their doctor to determine the best treatment for their individual diagnosis.
Oklahoma CyberKnife is a service of Hillcrest Medical Center and is located off the hospital’s main campus at 6802 South Olympia Ave. in Tulsa. For more information, call (918) 949-6676.