Emory's Winship Cancer Institute announced today that it is the first cancer facility in Georgia to provide prostate cancer patients with "GPS for the body" in order to provide more precise radiation therapy.
The new technology helps physicians localize and track prostate tumor motion during treatment.
"Organs naturally move during radiation treatments and this movement cannot always be predicted," says Peter Rossi, MD, assistant professor in Emory's radiation oncology department. "The new system is like GPS for the body, enabling us to detect the slightest movement of the tumor so we can deliver extremely accurate radiation therapy. Before, we were not able to see what a tumor actually was doing during treatment."
The Calypso 4D Localization System uses tiny electromagnetic sensors, about the size of a grain of rice, that are implanted in the prostate prior to treatment. These sensors enable doctors to locate the tumor within the prostate and then continuously monitor that location during delivery of the radiation. The sensors, which are passive until activated, are implanted in an outpatient procedure similar to a biopsy.
Following each treatment session a detailed report summarizes the motion of the tumor.
"Using the imaging and motion data we receive from the system," says Dr. Rossi, "we can better determine whether changes in the treatment are necessary to optimize radiation dose delivery and minimize complications of unintended irradiation of normal tissue."
Nearly 1.2 million cancer patients receive radiation therapy to treat cancerous tumors each year in the U.S. In prostate cancer treatment, the most common side effects arise when adjacent healthy tissue or organs are also irradiated during therapy on the prostate tumor.
Dr. Rossi notes that radiation oncology technologies have improved dramatically in recent years, which provides radiation oncologists with the opportunity to deliver higher doses of radiation to tumors while minimizing irradiation of surrounding tissue. It is not unusual, however, for organs to move slightly day to day due to normal physiologic changes.
Emory radiation oncologists also can combine the Calypso 4D Localization System with Emory's existing On-Board Imaging system for image-guided radiation therapy.
"We are one of only a few facilities in the United States with the ability to combine the two technologies," says Eric Elder, PhD, clinical director of medical physics and assistant professor of radiation oncology at Emory Winship.
Editor's Note: Patients are available for interviews. Please contact Vince Dollard at 404-778-4580.