Prostate Cancer Pre-Treatment Eases Radiation Side Effects

By Lisa Cianci, Editorial Contributor

Preventing side effects is an important element of any cancer treatment plan. That’s especially true within the pelvis, where the prostate resides.

Treating prostate cancer frequently involves targeted radiation therapy, which also can impact may damage the nearby rectum, making it an organ at risk (OAR). To buffer potential side effects such as diarrhea, pain and bleeding, a new pre-treatment can be inserted before radiation therapy begins.

Called SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel, the soft, nontoxic gel creates a temporary barrier that protects the rectum from radiation, explains Dr. Akash Nanda, director of urologic and hematologic radiation oncology at the Orlando Health Cancer Institute. 

The Latest Technology

During the outpatient surgical procedure, doctors use ultrasound imaging to precisely place the gel, which is 90 percent water. A small needle is guided to insert the barrier between the prostate and the rectum. 

“The patient is getting the latest technology in prostate cancer treatment and is very comfortable for the 10- to 15-minute procedure,” says Dr. Nanda, noting that it is performed under general anesthesia.

Patients may be able to resume normal activities immediately. Over time, the gel gradually absorbs into the body after radiation treatment has been completed.

Improved Results

“For the patients who’ve had this procedure, we’ve been able to significantly reduce the radiation dose to the rectum,” Dr. Nanda says.

Nearly 250,000 men are diagnosed annually with prostate cancer in the United States, the American Cancer Society estimates. SpaceOAR Hydrogel was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2015, and more than 50,000 patients worldwide have been treated with it.  

“SpaceOAR works well, and it’s simple and easy,” says Dr. Nanda.


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