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What is CyberKnife®?

The CyberKnife® is an advanced robotic radiotherapy treatment system which serves as a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of cancerous and non-cancerous conditions, anywhere in the body.

 It was developed during the 1990s in the United States in order to treat tumours that are not accessible to conventional surgery. The highly-focussed beams of radiation can target tumours that would otherwise be untreatable as they are not suitable for surgery.

The CyberKnife in situ at The London Clinic


Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) - formerly known as Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) - is the name of the treatment performed by the CyberKnife technology.

CyberKnife is a specialist SABR technology which makes it superior to other multi-purpose technologies offering the treatment, such as Varian Edge or Elektra Precise. 

CyberKnife SABR treatment is available for patients whose general health would make it difficult to cope with extensive surgery and anaesthesia, or those patients who want to avoid surgery for personal reasons.

In addition SABR can be applied to tumours not suitable for conventional radiotherapy or as a boost treatment in addition to conventional radiotherapy.

 CyberKnife® at The London Clinic

The CyberKnife at The London Clinic is located in the Duchess of Devonshire Wing.

A growing number of consultants who practice at The London Clinic use it as an alternative to surgery for difficult or inoperable cases.

It can be used successfully to treat small to medium sized tumours within the brain and spine, but also within the lung, digestive system, liver, pancreas and other body sites.  

Our multi-disciplinary team at The London Clinic, led by the Clinical Oncologists and supported by the Medical Physics Department, use CyberKnife SABR to treat these conditions:

How does CyberKnife® work?

Unlike the name suggests, CyberKnife doesn’t involve any physical cutting. It is a painless delivery technique, which uses targeted radiation to treat the defined area.

Treatments are completed either as a single session or typically delivered as an outpatient procedure over three to five days.

Following a decision from a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians reviewing your case, you will be sent for a set of images on a CT scanner (and possibly MRI).

These scans are used to help design a bespoke patient treatment plan, which will determine how the CyberKnife will position itself during treatment and indicates how the radiation is absorbed into the target.

Your consultant will then review the plan alongside our experienced Medical Physics team and approve it ready for treatment.

CyberKnife treatments usually last between 30-90 minutes. During this time the robotic arm of the CyberKnife will position itself around you and direct approximately 80 - 150 narrow beams of radiation precisely on to the target.

The target itself may move with breathing, but it is accurately tracked throughout the treatment using x-ray imaging and the sophisticated CyberKnife tracking algorithms.

In order to help with tracking, in some cases fiducials (small metal markers) may need to be implanted around the target. This is performed by a trained CyberKnife Radiologist prior to treatment. For prostate treatments a SpaceOAR gel implant may also be offered to further minimise the possibility of side effects.

Benefits of CyberKnife®


It is a painless procedure so there is no need for anaesthetic.

In some contexts it can be an excellent non-invasive alternative to surgery for patients who wish to avoid, or otherwise cannot tolerate a major surgical procedure.

The treatment is not uncomfortable: you simply lie down and relax while the arm of the CyberKnife® moves around you; it even compensates for small movements caused by muscular activity and breathing. This means for head and neck treatments you do not need a fixed head restraint, although we normally make you a comfortable face mask.


Highly-focused radiation allows for the targeting of otherwise untreatable and inoperable tumours.

CyberKnife® allows for real-time target tracking. This allows for greater targeting accuracy, especially in cases where the target may move with breathing.

The availability of an on-site 3 tesla MRI ensures high resolution imaging of the tumour site, facilitating greater accuracy in treatment planning.

Minimal Recovery Time

CyberKnife® is carried out on an outpatient basis with each treatment session taking a maximum of 30-90 minutes.

Short term side-effects are usually temporary and mild. In contrast, conventional surgery may require intensive care support following the operation  and a recovery period of several weeks.

Overall side-effects and potential complications associated with CyberKnife® depend on the location of the treatment but are typically much lower than those associated with an equivalent surgical procedure.

A CyberKnife® treatment course normally concludes in a week or less, allowing you to resume your life as soon as possible.

Why Choose The London Clinic?

The advantage of having a dedicated cancer facility means that all services essential to patient care are close at hand throughout the treatment pathway, such as our Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) and Radiographers.

The London Clinic also offers complementary therapies and oncology counselling.

All cases are discussed by leading consultants to ensure that each patient is recommended the most beneficial treatment to them.

On-site specialist radiologists will help prepare you for treatment with a fiducial or SpaceOAR implant which further helps to decrease potential side effects. The London Clinic was the first hospital in the UK to offer SpaceOAR to protect the rectum during prostate radiotherapy.

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