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What to Expect (Procedures Outside the Head)

Your doctor has recommended a treatment called CyberKnife. It is used to treat tumors and other conditions throughout the body without having to make an incision (or opening in the skin). CyberKnife can also be used for people who cannot have surgery, or because they have other serious health issues.

CyberKnife uses a computer-controlled robotic arm that moves slowly around you. Beams of high dose radiation are aimed and delivered to the specific area that needs to be treated, while you lie on a special table. The beams are silent and invisible. They are painless; you will not be able to feel them as they pass through your body.

Preparing for your Cyberknife treatment

Prior to your treatment, CyberKnife doctors and nurses will talk with you about the treatment goals. Before your treatment can be done, you will need to have certain tests such as blood work and scans such as CT, MRI, or PET.

If you do not live near Capital Health, our staff can help you make arrangements for transportation and recommend overnight accommodations. Please be sure to tell us if you are coming from outside of the area prior to your date of treatment.

Treatment planning

On a separate day prior to your CyberKnife treatment, you will return to the Radiation Oncology Department at Capital Health Medical Center - Hopewell for a treatment planning CT scan. It is important for you to be still during treatment. A custom molded cradle is made for you to lie on during treatment. You may be fitted for a vest that tracks your breathing. The CT scan is done with you in the cradle and/or vest. Once the scan is complete, the doctors create a treatment plan for you. This part of the planning and preparation session usually takes a few weeks to complete.


When treatment planning is finished, you will be given a date and time for your CyberKnife treatment. You may receive one to five treatments over a one-week period of time. Each treatment can take up to 90 minutes.

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes to the procedure. Most people will not need to change into a hospital gown.
  • You may eat normally and continue your usual activities.
  • You may take all your regular medications before the treatment.
  • Do not wear any jewelry to the procedure.
  • Do not use moisturizers, lotions, creams, powders, or deodorant on the area to be treated 4 hours before your treatment.

A family member or friend should come with you to the hospital on the treatment day. He or she will wait in one of the waiting areas at Capital Health Medical Center - Hopewell while you are receiving your treatment.

After treatment

There are minimal side effects from CyberKnife treatment. The most common of these is fatigue or feeling tired. In most cases, you will be able to go back to your normal activities, but please plan to have someone drive you home following the treatment. If you think you may have a problem with transportation, please let our staff know.

You will return soon after treatment for a follow-up visit with the doctors. Several months after treatment, you will see the doctors and have follow-up scans to check your response to the treatment.

If you have any questions, our staff is here to help you. Please call us at 609-303-4565.

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