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New on tech front: GPS for the body at Upstate

New technology employed at Upstate for more precise delivery of radiation treatment to prostate cancer patients.

A new technology has been introduced at University Hospital of SUNY Upstate Medical Center that allows for a more precise delivery of radiation treatment to prostate cancer patients. Upstate is the first hospital in the region to implement this new kind of technology.

The Calypso System, nicknamed the "GPS for the body," tracks the prostate organ's movement as a precise beam of radiation is being aimed at the cancerous tumor on the organ. This way, as the prostate is constantly moving, the radiation can follow the organ to ensure that other surrounding healthy tissues are not accidentally targeted, and to maximize the amount of radiation hitting the tumor.

"Because of movement of gas, the prostate can move up and down to a fair degree," Dr. Jeffrey Bogart, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Upstate said. {Q}"The radiation beam is really sculpted around the prostate and it helps to protect the surrounding area, which is the rectum and the bladder, because these two organs, really, surround the prostate."{Q}

The process begins by implanting three electromagnetic transponders into the prostate that are the size of a grain of rice. This procedure is a fairly simple one, even easier than a standard prostate biopsy, Bogart said. These implanted units are only active when a patient is receiving radiation treatments.

The transponders act as mini-GPS units, relaying back to a computer with extreme precision where the prostate is in the body. This allows the radiation beam to move with the organ in concert, distributing radiation more efficiently.

"Now because we're much more confident in where the tumor is, and we can see whether or not it's moving, we're able to give more intensive treatments, (higher doses of radiation safely)," Bogart said.

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