The CyberKnife – one of the most advanced forms of radiosurgery – is a painless, non-invasive treatment that delivers high doses of precisely targeted radiation to destroy tumors or lesions within the body. It uses a robotic arm to deliver highly focused beams of radiation. The flexibility of the robotic arm makes it possible to treat areas of the body, such as the spine and spinal cord, that can't be treated by other radiosurgery techniques.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals began offering CyberKnife treatments in March 2003 and remains one of only a few centers in California that offer this therapy. Many of the patients treated with Cyberknife have tumors that were previously considered untreatable with surgery or conventional radiation therapy.

Radiosurgery minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Compared to other radiosurgical treatments, the CyberKnife offers several advantages to patients, including rapid relief from pain and other symptoms.


Treatments are performed on an outpatient basis, each one lasting between 30 to 90 minutes. The number of treatments vary depending on the tumor size, location and shape but typically only two to five daily sessions are required. The CyberKnife allows patients to lie comfortably on the procedure table without anesthesia while the robotic arm moves, without touching them, to treat all areas of the tumor.

There are minimal side effects, though some patients do experience fatigue. Thanks to the low risk of complications or damage to healthy tissue, most patients recover from the treatment right away and are immediately able to resume normal activities.


The following conditions can be successfully treated with the CyberKnife:

  • Spine tumors
  • Brain tumors
  • Lung cancers
  • Metastatic cancers – or cancers that have spread – to the brain, lung and spine
  • Pancreatic cancers
  • Prostate cancer for adults
  • Other lesions, tumors and conditions in the body where radiation treatment is indicated

Some conditions may be treated with a different non-invasive radiotherapy device called the Gamma Knife, which also delivers a single, finely focused, high dose of radiation. At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, the Gamma Knife is used primarily to treat small benign or malignant brain tumors, epilepsy, trigeminal neuralgia or abnormal blood vessel formations located in the brain.

For more information about Cyberknife treatment, call (415) 353-7175.