Cancer Center of Hawaii uses GPS for the body - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Cancer Center of Hawaii uses GPS for the body

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By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The American Cancer Society in Hawaii says about 1,060 people were diagnosed with prostate cancer statewide last year. But new technology to the islands – sort of a GPS for the body - is giving patients another way to fight the disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S. One of the biggest challenges in treating prostate cancer is controlling the organ. It's often moving inside the body, and during radiation treatment, as cancer cells are killed off, it can also damage surrounding tissues and organs.

"As a result of that, we thought, how do we target that more accurately?" says Dr. John Lederer, director of the Cancer Center of Hawaii. "So they developed a way of implanting these three, what they refer to as, beacons."

The beacons are part of technology called the Calypso System. They're the size of a grain of rice and are permanently implanted in the prostate. During radiation treatment, an electro-magnetic array goes over the patient's body and senses exactly where the beacons - and in effect, the prostate - are located, in real time. Doctors can be more accurate and raise the treatment dosage.

Dr. Lederer says, "For radiation, the dose matters, and if you can give a higher dose, you're generally going to get a higher cure rate. And number two, that means the rectum and the bladder, which are the things closest to the prostate, will get a little less radiation." Patients may also suffer less side effects, like burning during urination and irritation to the rectum.

The Cancer Center of Hawaii is currently the only facility in the islands to offer the Calypso. So far, about 80 patients have undergone the treatment with good results. Lederer says it gives patients more options, locally.

"We can show them, yeah, there are many options that are reasonable, but these are the differences - and they can make up their own mind and say, well, you don't have to go to Los Angeles now to find Calypso."

It's been in use here for about a year now, and next week, the Cancer Center's Leeward Oahu office is also getting the technology.

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