New IU Health Arnett technology benefiting prostate cancer patients and more

The amount of radiation treatment visits for prostate cancer patients is now being cut down. That's thanks to a new IU Health technology called the Calypso System.

Posted: Jun 10, 2021 7:14 AM
Updated: Jun 10, 2021 7:16 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- A new IU Health technology is improving the radiation treatment process for patients with prostate cancer. It's called the Calypso System.

According to Dr. Matthew Orton, an IU Health Arnett Radiation Oncologist, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men following skin cancer. And anywhere from 300,000 to 350,000 men are diagnosed with it every year. That's why IU Health Arnett decided to invest in a device like this.

The Calypso System basically works like a GPS to help doctors more accurately target the cancer area. It's common for the prostate to move around a little even with slight movements like using the restroom or breathing. And this can make it hard for doctors to be sure that the radiation target is hitting exactly where it should be. Before this device, doctors had no way of knowing if a shift occurred unless they performed an X-Ray before every treatment, which is not only time-consuming but also costly for patients.

Doctors insert a tiny locating device called a Beacon inside the prostate where the cancer lies. And the Calypso System has a locating display that helps doctors easily see the cancer area on a computer monitor. The Calypso is programmed to adjust the radiation target to wherever the cancer area in the prostate has shifted.

It's helped the hospital be able to give a higher dosage of radiation treatment per visit because of the Calypso making the process more precise. It's cut several patient radiation treatment visits down from 28 to just five.

"If the prostate were to move outside of the treatment field in one of those treatments, now that's 20% of the treatment that was delivered incorrectly and so being able to target and track the tumor exactly is important," said Dr. Orton.

He said these shortened treatment visits are only an option for patients with milder to normal cases of the disease. And for IU Health Arnett, that's about 50% of its prostate cancer patients.

While the Calypso has only been used for helping treat prostate cancer so far, Dr. Orton is excited about all the treatments it's capable of benefiting.

"Those beacons can also be placed within the liver, and they are now approved to be placed in lung tumors so there are some potential applications that we have not yet started utilizing yet," said Orton. "It's just another way to be able to deliver things in a more targeted way so that we can minimize damage to normal tissues."

Prostate cancer is most common in men ages 60 and older. Men are encouraged to start screening if there's a family history of it or if they have high-risk factors. Click here to schedule an appointment.

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