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Fox Chase Cancer Center Offers GPS-like Tracking Technology During Prostate Cancer Treatment

Electromagnetic Transponders, or Beacons, Implanted in Prostate Allow Real-Time Tracking and Greater Precision for Delivery of IMRT

PHILADELPHIA-Fox Chase Cancer Center is the first institution in the Eastern United States to offer real-time tracking of the prostate gland during radiation treatment with IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy). Called Calypso, the new technology works like a GPS system for the prostate allowing continuous monitoring of the gland during the treatment for the most precise delivery of high-dose radiation.

Precision is paramount when targeting tumors with high radiation doses. Organs such as the prostate can shift position. Tracking the organ's movement during treatment lets physicians adjust the treatment as necessary.

The implantation of tiny seeds in the prostate permits the real-time tracking. Called Beacon. Electromagnetic Transponders, these tiny transmitters continuously send signals to receivers in the radiation treatment room. The receivers are linked with a computer that alerts technicians when the prostate moves an unacceptable amount (usually a few millimeters) during treatment. The treatment can be adjusted based on this movement to ensure greater accuracy.

"We treat with high doses of radiation, which provides the best chance of a cure for prostate cancer," explained Eric M. Horwitz, MD - Chair, Radiation Oncology; Gerald E. Hanks Chair in Radiation Oncology, clinical director in the radiation oncology department at Fox Chase Cancer Center. "It's critical that we precisely target the prostate and minimize radiation dose to the healthy structures nearby such as the rectum and bladder."

Horwitz says movement of the prostate during treatment can be caused by normal bladder and rectum functions. If these structures receive more radiation than is intended, the patient could have unwanted side effects such as increased bowel and bladder frequency and urgency. The Calypso system received FDA clearance in July 2006.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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