Calypso Prostate Cancer Treatment: The Tiniest Trackers
Calypso Targets Prostate Tumors with Incredible Precision.
Joel Schwartz, MD, would lie back, listen to his I-phone music collection, and sigh contently. He even yawned sometimes.
This might be anyone’s idea of relaxing. But Joel was undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer at the time.
His radiation oncology team at Abington Memorial Hospital’s Rosenfeld Cancer Center was also content, though vigilant, thanks to the amazing precision of the “Calypso® GPS System for the Body.®” They knew, like Joel, that this innovative technology keeps the prostate [perfectly] aligned with the radiation treatment beam at all times.
“Each treatment flew by,” Joel says. “In 20 minutes, I was finished.”
The Calypso 4D localization system GPS for the Body works in tandem with the delivery of radiation treatments to the prostate. Abington Memorial Hospital is one of a select few hospitals in the region to offer this technology. Calypso enables radiation oncologists to prescribe higher doses of radiation to a smaller area. The system tracks the slightest patient movement in real time, to ensure that the maximum dose of radiation goes to the tumor cells, not to the surrounding healthy tissue.
Dr. Schwartz is the retired former chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Abington Memorial Hospital. He is also an engaging clinician, nationally known speaker, and author who views life with a great sense of humor. When asked about the advantages of GPS for the Body, he laughingly says he “could have had satellite radio implanted, too.”
But he’s serious about the benefits of Calypso. “When I heard about Calypso, I knew it was the best treatment option for me,” Joel says. Prior to beginning radiation therapy, the radiation oncology specialist at the Rosenfeld Cancer Center implanted three tiny Beacon® electromagnetic transponders into his prostate.
Each transponder is no bigger than a grain of rice. Yet the Beacons communicate with the Calypso system using safe radiofrequency waves. Calypso operates in concert with the linear accelerator that delivers each radiation treatment.
Joel continues, “Every patient receiving prostate radiation has a targeted plan. The radiation oncologist selects a dose that will be administered over the duration of the treatment, outlining the area of concentration for each session.
“But the prostate is a continuously moving organ,” Dr. Schwartz adds. “When the patient lies on the table, Calypso tracks the patient in real time. If the patient moves or coughs during a treatment, the GPS transponders detect whether the prostate is still within the targeted range. If not, it signals the Calypso computer program. The linear accelerator would then shut off and recalculate the coordinates.”
Since radiation treatment with Calypso keeps the targeted area smaller, patients benefit from decreased side effects (such as irritation to the bowel or bladder area or sexual dysfunction). Advantages also include better expected outcomes because high doses can be delivered safely.
Joel finished his treatment plan about six months ago. “I feel great! I’ve had virtually no side effects. I’m back to working on a book about my experience, including finding the humor in the diagnosis and treatment. My working title is ‘A Prostate Primer for the Common Man.’ I believe when you can laugh, it reduces the anxiety of considering it all.”
Joel shares a “phenomenon” he observed. “The Radiation Oncology team works in total sync,” he adds. “AMH has an amazing group of professionals, from the receptionist to the dosimetrist operating the computer program to the physicist, nurses — to my radiation oncologist, Dr. Wayne Pinover (Wayne Pinover, DO)”
The team has it down to a science, but Joel enjoyed their optimism and humor, too. “Each day I’d bring different music to listen to — classical or jazz. The staff knew that Friday was ‘party music’. It became a running joke that we were all finishing another week.”
4-D? Rice-sized transponders that signal direction from within the body? It’s not the future. It’s today at Abington Memorial Hospital’s Rosenfeld Cancer Center.
For Joel, the concepts are music to his ears. His funny-bone appreciates it, too. “I keep waiting to turn around and hear that Calypso GPS voice that says, ‘recalculating,’” he laughs.