New treatments are helping men with prostate cancer live longer, but can still cause embarrassing side effects. Now, there's a new type of guided radiation that's making life easier for a lot of men.
Rick Dancer's life is a balancing act. He uses an exercise ball every day in intense two-hour workouts. "I think I'm in the best shape that I've ever been in in my life," he said.
When Rick was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, he was determined not to let it affect his lifestyle. "I don't want to live not being able to do the things that I love to do," Dancer said.
Rick tried a new radiation system called the calypso. It works like a GPS, tracking the prostate's location during the entire treatment.
The prostate's considered a moving target during radiation, because it changes position when the bladder and rectum are empty or full.
With the calypso, doctors say they can pinpoint exactly where the prostate is. out:
Three tiny transponders are implanted in the patient's prostate. They emit radio-waves that allow doctors to track exactly where the prostate is at any given time, in real time.
The system is so precise the beams only hit the prostate, sparing surrounding organs. Studies show it reduces gastro-intestinal side effects, and doctors expect it could reduce sexual side effects too.
Dr. Howard Sander said, "It's like having a movie, a continuous read-out where the prostate is throughout the entire treatment."
Dancer continued his grueling workouts, even while undergoing radiation. He says the treatments didn't interfere with his active lifestyle. Now, he pushes even harder.
The new system allows doctors to know where the prostate is within one-millimeter throughout the entire treatment.
So far, it's been used on about 6,000 patients in the United States.