Orlando Health Leads the Way in Protecting Prostate Cancer Patients from Radiation Side Effects

Orlando, FL (May 31, 2023) – Orlando Health Cancer Institute is leading the way in protecting prostate cancer patients from the harmful side effects of radiation therapy. The health system became the first in Central Florida to offer Barrigel, an advanced protective barrier that significantly reduces the exposure of the rectum to high doses of radiation during treatment.

Radiation therapy is a vital component of prostate cancer treatment. It uses energy beams to destroy and stop the spread of cancer cells. However, due to the proximity of the rectum to the prostate, there is a risk of exposing the rectal wall to radiation, leading to potential complications and discomfort for patients.

The prostate cancer team at Orlando Health Cancer Institute began using rectal spacers in 2021, when it introduced SpaceOAR, a hydrogel that shields and protects the rectum and surrounding tissue from the region of high radiation dose. The spacer remains in place throughout the course of radiation treatment until it is fully and safely absorbed by the body. With the addition of Barrigel, oncologists now have a rectal spacer they can sculpt and fully customize to fit the patient’s anatomy. Both spacers are inserted using minimally invasive techniques and performed under local or general anesthesia in hospitals, outpatient clinics, or doctors’ offices prior to the start of radiation treatment.

“Worldwide, prostate cancer represents one of the most common types of cancer among men, so this advancement is significant in allowing us to provide a large number of our patients advanced, high quality care,” says Akash Nanda, MD, director of urologic and hematologic radiation oncology and director of patient safety at the Orlando Health Cancer Institute. “We’re very excited to offer Barrigel as yet another innovative solution with the potential to improve the quality of life for many patients and make their treatment journey much more manageable."

Dr. Nanda and his team at Orlando Health Cancer Institute successfully implanted the first Barrigel spacers in patients earlier this week. To schedule a visit with a prostate cancer specialist, please call 321-841-8650.


About Orlando Health

Orlando Health, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with $8.1 billion of assets under management that serves the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico.

Founded more than 100 years ago, the healthcare system is recognized around the world for Central Florida’s only pediatric and adult Level I Trauma program as well as the only state-accredited Level II Adult Trauma Center in Pinellas County. It is the home of the nation’s largest neonatal intensive care unit under one roof, the only system in the southeast to offer open fetal surgery to repair the most severe forms of spina bifida, the site of an Olympic athlete training facility and operator of one of the largest and highest performing clinically integrated networks in the region. Orlando Health has pioneered life-changing medical research and its Graduate Medical Education program hosts more than 350 residents and fellows.

The 3,238-bed system includes 23 hospitals and emergency departments – 18 of which are currently operational with five coming soon. The system also includes nine specialty institutes, more than 100 adult and pediatric primary care practices, skilled nursing facilities, an in-patient behavioral health facility under the management of Acadia Healthcare, and more than 60 outpatient facilities that include imaging and laboratory services, wound care centers, home healthcare services in partnership with LHC Group, and urgent care centers in partnership with FastMed Urgent Care. More than 4,000 physicians, representing more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties have privileges across the Orlando Health system, which employs more than 25,000 team members and more than 1,200 physicians.

In FY22, Orlando Health served nearly 142,000 inpatients and 3.9 million outpatients. The healthcare system provided more than $782 million in total value to the communities it serves in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more in FY 21, the most recent period for which this information is available. Additional information can be found at, or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @orlandohealth.

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