ANDERSON – Anderson’s Community Cancer Center is among those leading the way in Indiana with new technology for radiation treatment of prostate cancer.
The center is currently the only location in the state to have the Calypso 4D Localization System that makes it possible to give consistent and precise targeting of radiation. Careful targeting means that other critical structures in the body are not affected, thereby reducing damaging side effects.
“It’s a new way of monitoring our treatments. It’s real-time tracking,” said Tim Franklin, Community Cancer Center manager and radiation therapist . The Calypso System is manufactured by Calypso Medical Technologies based in Seattle.
According to the American Cancer Society, about one man in every six in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Statistically, this is the battle men have to fight,” said Franklin. Many of them may be unaware of the Calypso system as an option in that battle.
Calypso patients are first implanted with three tiny electromagnetic transponders, each smaller than a grain of rice, to site the location of the tumor. The Calypso device stands next to the radiation treatment machine with an arm that extends over the patient’s abdomen and pelvic area.
The arm holds a device called an array that Franklin likens to a big cookie sheet. Infrared cameras monitor the array, which sends out a radio signal to the transponders to ‘wake‘ them up and then sense their position.The three transponders then allow triangulation of the precise real-time location of the tumor, so that external beam radiation can be directed precisely there. The system senses the slightest movement so that the patient can be readjusted for continued accuracy.
Franklin said the precise targeting facilitated by the Calypso system reduces radiation damage to bladder, rectum and hips – all in nearby proximity to the prostate. That means that Calypso patients are less likely to suffer side effects like incontinence and arthritic hips.
“It doesn’t treat what you don’t want treated,” said Calypso patient Jerry Decker from Washington, Ind.
“Dr. (James) Currier initially learned of the technology and brought it here,” said Franklin. At the time, late 2010, Currier owned the radiation portion of the cancer center, which has since been purchased by Community Hospital Anderson.
Acquiring the new technology with costs closing in on half a million dollars was going out on limb. Franklin said that insurance payers do not reimburse hospitals in the early years of the use of new technology, which explains why so few of the systems are in place.
“That’s where the risk is and has been for hospitals,” said Leah Campbell, Community Hospital’s director of marketing and community relations. The system has now been approved for reimbursement, thanks in part to Dr. Currier’s efforts, including his participation in federal government proceedings.
Community Hospital Anderson’s cancer center has treated about 80 patients since acquiring the Calypso system. Many of those patients have not been local. They’re people like Decker who researched to find a better solution.
Franklin said that Community is looking at expanding use of the Calypso to treat lung cancer as well, with an August meeting scheduled to explore the topic.
In the meantime, Decker just completed his treatments and left feeling very good about things.
“I’ve got friends – they’re going to hear. If I can help somebody, I’m confident that this is something really good,” said Decker.
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