Last year, NYU Winthrop Hospital treated over 2,100 cancer patients with CyberKnife®, a stereotactic body radiation therapy, making it one of the busiest CyberKnife® centers in the world. In the latest step to provide residents of Manhattan and the entire tri-state region with greater access to NYU Winthrop’s leading edge CyberKnife® services, NYU Winthrop has opened Manhattan’s first and only CyberKnife® facility at 150 Amsterdam Avenue at 66th Street.
“NYU Winthrop has long been a leader in CyberKnife® treatment, and our expansion into Manhattan further demonstrates our commitment to providing more and more patients with access to this state-of-the-art technology,” said John F. Collins, president and CEO of NYU Winthrop.
CyberKnife® is a high-tech, computer controlled robotic technology with cruise missile-like precision that delivers highly targeted beams of radiation to tumors while sparing healthy tissue. It provides hope to patients with tumors and lesions previously considered inoperable or which are not amenable to treatment with conventional radiation due to damaging side effects.
“In my view, CyberKnife® is the greatest advance in radiation oncology in the last decade,” said Jonathan Haas, MD, chief of radiation oncology at NYU Winthrop. “In the case of prostate cancer, treatments take only five brief visits and result in outcomes equal to or better than surgery, with no incontinence and less risk of impotence. It has proven to be a highly effective alternative for patients with prostate cancer.”
NYU Winthrop is now the busiest CyberKnife® center in the country, and teams from around the world come to NYU Winthrop to be trained in its use. Matthew Witten, PhD, director of CyberKnife® radiosurgery and the chief physicist in the Division of Radiation Oncology at NYU Winthrop, has played an essential role in the development and operation of NYU Winthrop’s CyberKnife® program. Among his many responsibilities is ensuring clinicians understand the intricacies of the technology’s inner workings and providing invaluable guidance on how to maximally utilize its potential.
Seth R. Blacksburg, MD, who recently joined NYU Winthrop, serves as the medical director of the Manhattan facility. Dr. Blacksburg is a board-certified radiation oncologist with specialized training in the treatment of genitourinary, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system tumors with innovative radiation techniques. He works closely with Dr. Haas, who continues to head the CyberKnife® program at the hospital’s main campus and oversees radiation oncology both in Mineola and Manhattan.
“It is a privilege to work with such a talented and patient-committed team to provide patients with this cutting-edge technology,” said Dr. Blacksburg. “NYU Winthrop has long been a world-leader in Cyberknife® treatment approaches and it’s an honor to now offer this same level of care and technological expertise to the residents of New York City and abroad.”
According to Dr. Haas, CyberKnife®’s submillimeter accuracy is among its greatest advantages. The highly focused radiation beams can be sculpted to reach small, deeply imbedded complex masses and minimize damage to healthy tissue when compared to other types of radiation therapy. This allows doctors access to previously unreachable and untreatable tumors throughout the body when radiation therapy is needed. The computer also tracks body movement, even from breathing, in real time, adjusting the beams to stay focused on the tumor and minimize radiation to surrounding healthy tissue. This ability to track a tumor and adjust radiation beams during treatment is unique to CyberKnife®.
Patients are fully awake through the entire procedure, which lasts approximately 30 to 45 minutes, during which the CyberKnife® robot moves slowly around the patient and delivers the radiation while periodically taking X-rays to ensure the treatment is being delivered accurately.