Conformal Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
In three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, high-tech computers are used to identify the location of the cancer inside the prostate gland.
A special protection device is created that the patient wears during the treatments. This device is similar to a body cast, but it is molded out of styrofoam and helps to keep the body still during treatment while the radiation is aimed at the cancer.
When the patient wears the plastic mold during the treatments, the radiation beams can be aimed more accurately to target the prostate gland. The idea is to direct a high dose of radiation only toward the cancer cells, while reducing the amount of radiation that the surrounding noncancerous areas receive. If the healthy tissue can be spared from the effects of radiation, the patient will experience fewer side effects.
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy allows our radiation oncologists to sculpt radiation beams exactly to the shape of a tumor. This is ideal for tumors that have irregular shapes or that lay close to healthy tissues and organs, as is often the case in prostate cancer.
Using a CT scanner, the machine creates a 3D image of the tumor. Radiation beams from several directions match the tumor’s unique dimensions in height, width and depth. As a result, higher doses of radiation may be delivered, and are more focused on the tumor. This spares nearby healthy tissue and concentrates radiation where it’s needed most to destroy cancerous cells.
Advantages of Conformal Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
- Major surgery usually can be avoided by using radiation therapy.
- Radiation therapy may cure prostate cancer in its early stages and may help extend life in later stages.
- It rarely causes loss of urinary control, and other side effects like impotence occur less often than with surgery.
- Maximum radiation exposure to the cancer.
- Less radiation exposure to healthy tissue.
The Calypso System: GPS For the Body
The Calypso 4D Localization System, referred to as GPS for the Body, is a breakthrough technology providing doctors with a way to precisely set up prostate radiation therapy and then monitor the prostate’s position during treatment.
The Calypso System uses tiny electromagnetic transponders, which are implanted into the prostate in an outpatient procedure prior to treatment. These beacon transponders emit radiofrequency waves which allow very accurate alignment of the prostate before each treatment session. It also lets doctors monitor the position of the prostate in real time during treatment delivery.
Unlike other image-guided technologies, which only locate the prostate once before treatment starts, the Calypso system tracks your prostate during treatment. If the prostate moves out of position, the system alerts our therapists, who will stop the radiation. Treatment will start again when the prostate is back in position.
Radio Frequency Markers for Treatment of Prostate Cancer
A fiducial radio frequency marker is a reference point used with imaging technology to help the doctor keep a target area within his/her field of view to ensure accurate results for the patient. In conformal radiation therapy, these markers are used to mark the tumor and facilitate precise delivery of the radiation energy. For most tumors, three to six markers placed close to the tumor can help the doctor perform the treatment procedure with the highest level of precision.
Fiducial markers must be securely placed near the targeted tumor to ensure that they do not migrate during treatment. Fiducial markers are most commonly placed prior to a course of IMRT for prostate cancer; these markers may be placed in radiation oncology or in the urologist’s office during a simple outpatient procedure.
If you feel that you may be a candidate for Conformal Radiation Therapy – or any other treatment for prostate cancer – don’t hesitate…call us today to schedule a consultation!