Epworth Radiation Oncology is the single largest Australian provider for the latest radiation oncology treatment system, Calypso


Calypso involves using radiofrequency transponders which are surgically placed in tumours to track and adjust radiation treatment beams due to natrual movements of the body, such as breathing. This allows radiation therapy to be delivered to a smaller treatment area when breathing would traditionally have to be compensated by treating with larger radiation beams.


Read the latest news on the Varian Calypso® System here.

Patient video

An informative video for prostate cancer patients, their families and carers.

Video by Epworth Radiation Oncology with animations provided courtesy of Varian Medical Systems, Inc. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

What is Calypso?

The Varian Calypso system for prostate is a technology that enhances tumour targeting during prostate cancer radiotherapy treatments. The Calypso system enables clinicians to track tumours objectively, accurately, precisely and in real-time during external beam radiation therapy.

The Calypso system is the only tracking system that uses GPS for the Body technology to track the prostate during radiation treatments in real time. Just as a GPS system in a car can locate where a car is at all times, GPS for the Body continuously tracks the prostate during treatment. Monitoring movement of the prostate is particularly important as the prostate organ often moves variably and unpredictably during treatment due to normal physiologic functions such as breathing, coughing or digestion. In fact, studies have shown that the prostate can move up to 12mm in as little as eight minutes. The technology can also be used post-prostate surgery to track any motion of the prostatic bed in the pelvis during radiation therapy.

When this happens, the tissue targeted for radiation may move in and out of the path of the radiation beam. As the target moves out of the path, healthy tissue receives the intended radiation, which may lead to increased side effects such as incontinence, rectal bleeding and sexual dysfunction.

The key strategy, therefore, is to keep the radiation beam focused accurately and precisely on the prostate. Calypso provides location information so that the radiation more accurately hits the tumour while minimising exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.


How it works


Three tiny transponders, about the size of a grain of rice (pictured), are permanently implanted into the prostate or prostatic bed post surgery during a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure. When activated, these transponders emit a radio signal that communicates with a special electromagnetic array, which is positioned over the patient during treatment. The Calypso system links with the linear accelerator - which produces and delivers the X-rays used to treat cancer.

If the tumour target moves out of range, the Radiation Therapists can stop the beam to adjust the tumour position by remotely moving the treatment couch. This enables the delivery of accurate radiation therapy while minimising dose to surrounding tissues and organs.

Calypso at Epworth


The Calypso systems at Epworth HealthCare are the largest installation in Australia and the first, and only, Victorian site providing the technology. Epworth patients can access this GPS for the Body for the first time outside of a clinical trial, used internationally for prostate cancer, lung cancer and skin surface movement tracking at either our Epworth Freemasons or Epworth Richmond sites. This technology allows Epworth to improve cancer patient outcomes and provide this technology for the first time in Victoria.


The first Epworth Radiation Oncology patient, under Dr Pat Bowden, underwent treatment using the motion management system at Epworth Richmond in mid-December 2014. The system has been used on multiple patients since for prostate cancer patients, as a primary treatment and also post prostatectomy surgery.


The proven results: Reduced side effects and improved quality of life for patients

Key findings in the clinical study “Assessing the Impact of Margin Reduction” (AIM) published in the medical journal, Urology, demonstrated that the use of the Calypso system resulted in a reduction in many of the self-reported side effects of radiation treatment compared to patients who were not treated with Calypso. This included a significant lowering of bowel symptoms as well as urinary irritation/obstruction. There was not a significant reduction in urinary incontinence.


The study results suggest that treatment with the Calypso system also reduced sexual dysfunction at two months and that this may be related to the reductions in urinary and bowel symptoms. Long-term sexual dysfunction side effects may not show up for one year. Overall, these reduced side effects may lead to improved quality of life outcomes for patients.  For more information on the AIM study, go to:


More information


Please note:

Radiation treatment and the Varian Calypso® system for prostate are not appropriate for all prostate cancer patients. Side effects of radiation may occur including skin irritation, fatigue, urinary and bowel changes, loss of fertility, and erectile dysfunction. Side effects of beacon implantation may occur including localized discomfort, bleeding, and infection. Patients should talk to their doctor to determine whether radiotherapy and the system for prostate treatment are right for them.


i: Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 Jun 1;65(2):528-34. Target localization and real-time tracking using the Calypso 4D localization system in patients with localized prostate cancer. Willoughby TR, Kupelian PA, Pouliot J, Shinohara K, Aubin M, Roach M 3rd, Skrumeda LL, Balter JM, Litzenberg DW, Hadley SW, Wei JT, Sandler HM.
ii:  Sandler, Howard, et al. “Reduction in Patient-reported Acute Morbidity in Prostate Cancer Patients Treated with 81 Gy Intensity-modulated Radiotherapy Using Reduced Planning Target Volume Margins and Electromagnetic Tracking: Assessing the Impact of Margin Reduction Study.” Urology 75 no. 5, (2010): 1004-1008.

Copyright ©2007, Varian Medical Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.