New Technology Reduces Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatment

SpaceOAR Hydrogel Reduces Side Effects for Prostate Cancer Radiation Patients

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. To help lessen painful side effects from prostate cancer treatment, the FDA recently approved SpaceOAR hydrogel, a new option for patients receiving radiation therapy.

Prostate Cancer Treatments

Prostate cancer treatment typically depends on the patient. The most common prostate cancer treatments include surgery, cryotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, vaccine treatments or radiation therapy. The American Cancer Society reports treatments for prostate cancer are generally used one at a time, although in some cases they may be combined.

Radical prostatectomy, or surgical removal of the prostate gland, and prostate radiotherapy, or the use of high-energy beams to kill cancer cells, have been shown to be the two most successful treatments for low- and intermediate-grade prostate cancer.

“Radiation therapy is a common treatment option,” said Dr. Omar Ghandour, the medical director of radiation oncology at Baptist Cancer Center-DeSoto. “It works by damaging the cancer cells’ DNA, so the targeted cells die without growing or replicating themselves. It also exposes nearby regions to radiation, which may lead to side effects.” 

Side Effects of Prostate Radiation Treatment

Radiation therapy effectively kills localized or locally advanced prostate cancer. Because the rectum and bladder sit next to the prostate, patients may experience bladder and rectal injuries. 

“The rectum receives high radiation doses as the prostate cancer is treated,” said Ghandour. “When used before radiation, SpaceOAR hydrogel can reduce the risk of these side effects during and after radiotherapy.”

High-radiation doses to the rectum may cause additional side effects, such as diarrhea, rectal bleeding, mucus discharge, rectal pain or rectal urgency.

For many men, radiation therapy side effects are temporary. In some cases, however, symptoms persist for years and surgery is needed to improve bowel function.

How SpaceOAR Hydrogel Works

To reduce the risk of common radiation side effects, doctors can now use SpaceOAR hydrogel to protect areas from unnecessary exposure to radiotherapy. According to Ghandour, SpaceOAR hydrogel is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed using local or general anesthesia. Once injected into place, the gel pushes the rectum away from the region receiving radiation and acts as a protective spacer between the prostate and the rectum.

“The gel stays in place for approximately 3 months and is then naturally absorbed and cleared in the urine in about 6 months,” said Ghandour.

In a clinical trial, prostate cancer patients with SpaceOAR hydrogel experienced a significant decline in bowel, urinary and sexual side effects for up to 3 years after radiation therapy.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto is the first hospital in North Mississippi and the Memphis metropolitan area to use SpaceOAR hydrogel to help treat prostate cancer patients. Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi also offers SpaceOAR treatments for prostate cancer.

Learn more about cancer care services at Baptist, or find a doctor by visiting our Find a Physician page. Explore the SpaceOAR hydrogel website for more information about the treatment.