According to the National Cancer Institute, one in six men born today will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, based on rates from 2002 to 2004. In fact, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men — the most common in the country if you exclude skin cancer, says Dr. Mitchell Anscher, chair of radiation oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center's Massey Cancer Center. These numbers have brought about a re-emphasis on the importance of screening as well as new treatments, including the Calypso system, which became available at VCU Medical Center late last year.
With this treatment, three beacon transponders, each about the size of a grain of rice, are implanted in the prostate. From outside the body, the Calypso system uses image-guided radiation therapy — it acts like a GPS to triangulate the positioning of the prostate before delivering radiation. This is extremely helpful, considering the prostate can move about in the body because of urine in the bladder, gas, stool or even breathing. The more targeted radiation minimizes the risk of exposure to other organs, Anscher says. Treatment time depends on the progression of the cancer, but 10 to 15 minutes, five days a week for seven to eight weeks is average.