Medicare Joins Major Insurance Carriers to Approve CyberKnife® As Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Healthcare providers in Texas were recently notified by the Texas Medicare intermediary, Trailblazer Health, that coverage of radiation treatment for prostate cancer would be immediately expanded to include CyberKnife® radiosurgery. CyberKnife® radiosurgery for the treatment of prostate cancer has been an option for Medicare patients for several years in almost 40 states and this promising treatment is now available for patients in Texas. This therapy is also covered by most other major insurance plans, including Cigna, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Health Care and Humana. CyberKnife® radiosurgery for the treatment of prostate cancer is growing in popularity in the United States, as it involves only five treatments over two weeks. Other types of external radiation typically involve 38-45 treatments over eight to nine weeks. As requested by Trailblazer, CyberKnife® patients at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (St. Luke’s) are enrolled on a national registry to standardize patient follow-up and the reporting of results.
Approximately 250,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Current treatments for localized prostate cancer include radiation or surgery. However, St. Luke’s offers another option for prostate cancer treatment through CyberKnife® robotic radiosurgery. St. Luke's was the first hospital in the Greater Houston area to offer the CyberKnife®, a noninvasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. Today, St. Luke’s is one of only two area hospitals to offer the revolutionary treatment, which specializes in the treatment of inoperable or surgically complex tumors.
“The Medicare coverage of CyberKnife® therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer allows us to treat many more patients with this effective, noninvasive treatment option. Recently published five year data shows 93 percent prostate-specific antigen (PSA) control and zero percent serious grade 3 rectal toxicity”, said L. Stephen Carpenter, MD, medical director of radiation therapy for St. Luke’s Radiation Therapy and CyberKnife® and associate professor of radiology at Baylor College of Medicine.
As the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery system, CyberKnife® is designed to treat tumors throughout the head and body, including those located in the brain, prostate, lung, spine, pancreas, liver and kidney, by using precisely-targeted beams of high-dose radiation with extreme accuracy. This technology offers what others cannot—a delivery system which tracks tumor movement during the procedure thus delivering radiation with sub-millimeter accuracy to avoid damage to healthy tissue and organs. Unlike traditional radiation options, which require patients to receive treatment five days a week for a period of six to eight weeks, CyberKnife® patients receive their entire treatment course in just five sessions. As an outpatient procedure, benefits to the patient include no anesthesia, incision or pain, and immediate return to normal activity. Medicare’s approval of the treatment is a result of more than five years of clinical data showing the effectiveness of CyberKnife® and its outcomes.
To date, more than 100,000 patients have been treated with CyberKnife® worldwide. Since 2009, St. Luke’s has treated several hundred patients with CyberKnife®, many of whom had inoperable or surgically complex tumors.