Optimizing your Quality of Life
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be considering radiation therapy for treatment. Radiation therapy is extremely effective in targeting and treating prostate cancer, but as with any procedure, there are potential side effects.
While radiation treatment for prostate cancer has become much more precise over the years, the organ’s location immediately next to the rectal wall can expose the rectum to high dose radiation, which can lead to disruption in bowel function for some patients. These side effects can be mild and go away on their own, but for some patients can last for years after treatment is complete.
Side effects can include:
- Rectal pain and bleeding
- Chronic diarrhea
- Urinary urgency and leakage
- Erectile dysfunction
A new method for reducing these short- and long-term side effects is SpaceOar hydrogel, now available at Singing River Cancer Center.
What is SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel?
SpaceOAR Hydrogel is an absorbable hydrogel that temporarily creates space between the prostate and the rectum, reducing the radiation dose delivered to the rectum during prostate radiation therapy.
Why should I have SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel?
When treating prostate cancer patients with radiation therapy, the goal is to kill the cancer cells while avoiding damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The prostate is next to the rectum and naturally separated by a small space. Due to the proximity, prostate radiation therapy can unintentionally cause damage to the rectum, which can lead to issues with bowel function. The “OAR” in SpaceOAR stands for “organ at risk,” and with radiation therapy to the prostate, this organ is the rectum.
How will SpaceOAR Hydrogel help me?
By acting as a spacer, the hydrogel temporarily moves the rectum a half-inch (1.3 cm) away from the prostate. By separating the prostate from the rectum, SpaceOAR Hydrogel reduces the radiation dose delivered to the rectum and may eliminate or decrease damage.
What is it made of?
SpaceOAR Hydrogel is made up of two liquids that when combined form a soft gel material that is mostly made of water. The material that the SpaceOAR Hydrogel is made from has been used in other implants such as surgical sealants used in the eye, brain, and spine.
Where is the procedure done and how long does it take?
SpaceOAR Hydrogel can be implanted as an outpatient procedure in a hospital, surgery center, outpatient clinic, or doctor’s office before the start of radiation treatment. It is typically not a lengthy procedure.
How is SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel implanted (put into place)?
The SpaceOAR Hydrogel is injected as a liquid through a small needle inserted between the rectum and the prostate. Your doctor will use ultrasound imaging to ensure correct placement.
Will I feel any discomfort or pain during or after the procedure?
Your doctor will use local, regional, or general anesthesia, and the injection site will be numbed, so you may feel a pinprick or pressure but should not feel any discomfort. Following the implantation, you may experience some temporary discomfort at the injection site. SpaceOAR Hydrogel patients typically report no prolonged discomfort from the implanted gel.
How soon after the procedure can I return to my normal activities?
You should be able to go back to your normal activities soon. Check with your doctor about anything you should avoid after the procedure and during your radiation treatments.
How long will SpaceOAR Hydrogel remain in my body?
SpaceOAR Hydrogel stays in place, separating your prostate and rectum, for about 3 months. After about 6 months, the hydrogel is naturally absorbed into the body and removed through your urine.