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Cutting-edge cancer robot for WA
The West Australian

WA will be the first Australian State with a revolutionary cancer treatment that uses highly targeted radiation on tumours once considered untreatable.

The robotic machine, known as CyberKnife and costing $9 million, will be installed at the State Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

An Australian physicist developed the technology about 20 years ago and it has been used in 300 centres worldwide, including in the US, Europe and Asia.

But it has never been available in Australia, prompting some people to pay up to $100,000 to have the treatment overseas.

Despite its name, CyberKnife is not a knife but fires beams of radiation at a tumour from virtually any direction via a robotic arm, without affecting healthy tissue.

The tracking software detects any movement of the tumour or patient and automatically corrects the robot position before targeting the tumour with multiple beams of high-energy radiation.

The treatment is so accurate, it can treat tumours previously seen as inoperable or untreatable.

Because it gives significantly more targeted radiation, it is 100 times more potent and treats patients much faster, with most only needing three to five visits compared with up to 50 with existing radiation treatment.

Professor David Joseph, head of radiation oncology at SCGH, said he had lobbied for 10 years to get the technology in WA.

"This is a very exciting development for the people of WA and will revolutionise radiation treatment by allowing us to use a pencil beam to deliver incredibly precise radiation to the body," he said.

"For prostate cancer, for example, it will mean much less toxic treatment that can be given in a much shorter time."

The CyberKnife can treat many cancers including in the lungs, head, neck, spine, abdomen and prostate.

In WA, it will initially be used on prostate and lung cancers.