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Oncology | Calypso®: GPS for the Body®

When a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s vital that he have access to all the latest, most effective treatment options. Virginia Hospital Center offers the most advanced radiation oncology options available, whether radiation is the primary treatment for prostate cancer or if it is used in addition to surgery. Robert L. Hong, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology, talks about the addition of the Calypso® System, an exciting new technology that promotes better outcomes and quality of life for prostate cancer patients and is only available at Virginia Hospital Center.

Q. What is Calypso?

A. Calypso® is image-guided radiation therapy. It’s a very sophisticated technology that precisely targets external beam radiation to the tumor and spares the healthy tissue around it. This allows the patient to receive a higher, more effective dose of radiation to kill the tumor with fewer physical side effects.

Q. What is it used for?

A. Currently, Calypso® is primarily being used to treat prostate cancer, but has potential applications in all cancers. It can be used in primary treatment or as an adjunctive treatment to surgery. There are now at least three randomized trials in the last five years that show the addition of radiation treatment after surgery for high-risk prostate cancer results in longer survival.

Q. How does Calypso work?

A. The best way to describe Calypso® is that it works like the GPS system in your car. That system uses a transponder in the unit to connect with a satellite to identify the position of the car. Calypso® is GPS navigation for the body. Three tiny beacon transponders, each smaller than a grain of rice, are implanted in the prostate or tumor bed during a brief outpatient procedure. Through radio frequency waves, the beacon transponders continually communicate their precise location. This is important because the prostate can move during treatment. Calypso® is able to constantly monitor that movement in real time and keep the radiation beam focused on the tumor. If the prostate moves out of range, the radiation beam turns off until it comes back into range again.

Q. What are the benefits?

A. Research has shown that patients treated with Calypso® had significantly fewer side effects in bowel urgency and frequency, fecal incontinence and urinary irritation. They also had fewer sexual side effects. Calypso® is the best technology available to maximally cover cancerous areas while minimizing normal tissue exposure to radiation.

Q. Why is Calypso an important part of cancer care at Virginia Hospital Center?

A. We’re not only trying to establish a cure for the patient, but also focus on using treatments that promote good quality of life. Once treatment is completed, managing side effects is just as important. We want our patients to be able to function in their everyday lives with as little interruption as possible, so they can still go to work, take care of their family, etc. Calypso® and the other advanced radiation therapy technologies available here make that possible.

Q. What sets Virginia Hospital Center apart for radiation oncology services?

A. When it comes to cancer treatment, one size does not fit all. Every cancer treatment plan at Virginia Hospital Center is uniquely designed to meet the patient’s specific situation and treatment needs. Our patients can feel confident knowing that all radiation oncology treatment options are available to them here, in one location, no matter what they need. For every option, we have the best in class.

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Radiation Oncology | Calypso®

Radiation Oncology Achieves National Accreditation

Virginia Hospital Center was recently awarded a three-year accreditation in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). This accreditation represents the highest level of quality and patient safety for radiation oncology. Virginia Hospital Center is the only hospital in northern Virginia with the complete range of Radiation Oncology Services, including external beam radiation, CyberKnife®, Calypso® and Brachytherapy, with ACR-ASTRO accreditation.


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