Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital has made a major stride following the commissioning of the facility’s CyberKnife radiotherapy services.
The facility on Wednesday announced in a statement that the first patient has successfully undergone the procedure following the launch of the CyberKnife System, the first and only fully robotic radiotherapy device for cancer treatment last May.
Facility chairperson Prof Olive Mugenda said the journey to acquire the CyberKnife started last year as part of the Level Six facility’s corporate vision to create a Centre of Excellence in oncology by providing end-to-end diagnosis and treatment options for cancer patients.
“The commissioning of the CyberKnife system is a major milestone for oncology management in Kenya. Mugenda said. As part of the strategic plan, for the last few years, we have harbored the need to move into high-precision treatment thanks to the government’s support,” Mugenda said.
“KUTRRH finally managed to acquire the CyberKnife machine which is a bold but best decision for Kenya in the effort to decrease outbound medical tourism and increase inbound medical tourism.”
CyberKnife treatment is an essential advancement in radiation therapy, offering precise and effective treatment options for a wide range of medical conditions, especially cancer while minimizing side effects and improving the overall patient experience.
Prof Mugenda said the process, which took five months after the launch by the President, included a dry run and the collection of very delicate data to ensure that the machine processes were accurate and ready to deliver precise and successful treatment to patients.
“The commencement of the treatment also marks a key milestone for Kenya, the region and Africa in general. The services are now available without travelling outside Kenya for Kenyans or outside Africa for the regional patients,” she said.
On the diagnostic side, the hospital acquired the much-needed Positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) and Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT-CT) services to complement existing linear particle accelerator (LINAC) and brachytherapy machines for treating cancerous tumours.
Following the new strides, the facility said the new operation makes Kenya the first country in sub-Sahara Africa to acquire the CyberKnife.
This makes it possible for local patients to obtain access to the extremely precise stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) treatments the system delivers.
The facility said the commissioning has been a tedious and delicate process jointly undertaken by medical physicists from Accuray, the equipment manufacturer, and its Medical Physicists, Doctors, Radiotherapists, and Oncologists.
The experts who were involved in Wednesday’s CyberKnife treatment included Abdil Jabbari and Ruth Wambui.
Jabbari is an application specialist and medical physicist from Accurray USA while Wambui is a radiation Therapist and the KUTRRH CyberKnife Centre Manager with many years of experience with CyberKnife operations in the UK.
Others are Peter Loreh, a medical physicist and Radiotherapy Head of Department at KUTRRH and Tracy Irura, a trained Radiation Oncologist at KUTRRH and the lead oncologist in Cyber Knife.
The patients set to undergo the CyberKnife system treatment regimen have been carefully selected to ensure that they meet the specified criteria by the experts.
They have been well briefed about the treatment and what to expect and are psychologically ready for this unique precision treatment.
CyberKnife treatment is important due to its precision.
This is because it uses a combination of advanced imaging and robotics to deliver highly precise and targeted radiation therapy.
It can track the movement of tumours in real-time, adjusting the radiation beams accordingly.
This precision is crucial in treating tumours near critical structures or delicate body areas.
Unlike traditional surgery, CyberKnife is a non-invasive treatment option as it does not require incisions or anesthesia, which leads to quicker recovery times and fewer complications for patients.
The procedure is also associated with reduced side effects as the precise targeting of radiation with CyberKnife helps minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissues.
This reduced collateral damage leads to fewer side effects, enhancing the patient’s overall quality of life during and after treatment.
The CyberKnife treatment is delivered in three to six outpatient sessions compared to traditional radiation therapy, which requires 20 to 30 sessions to complete treatment.
CyberKnife treatment is recommended for various conditions, including cancerous and non-cancerous tumours.
Its precise tumour treatment capacity to sub-millimeter accuracy levels makes treatment preferred using CyberKnife for some conditions.
CyberKnife is commonly used to treat cancerous tumours, including prostate cancer, lung cancer, brain tumours, spine tumours, and liver cancer, among others.
It is also used in the treatment of non-cancerous conditions, including Trigeminal Neuralgia.
CyberKnife is also used for the treatment of Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs), which are abnormal tangles of blood vessels, and Acoustic Neuromas, which are benign tumours on the acoustic nerve. These benign tumours are responsible for hearing and balance.
The treatment is also applied for pancreatic lesions.
Specific non-cancerous pancreatic lesions can be treated with CyberKnife.
CyberKnife can also treat certain functional disorders, such as epilepsy, by targeting specific brain areas responsible for seizures.
It can also be used for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which are highly focused and precise radiation therapy used for various conditions.
Treatment decisions for patients through the use of CyberKnife are made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors like the type and location of the tumour, the patient’s overall health, and the potential benefits of CyberKnife treatment.
The referral facility said it is engaging other insurance companies to meet the cost of treatment between Sh300,000 and Sh350,000.