SpaceOAR: Reducing Radiation Side Effects During Prostate Cancer Treatment

January 2, 2018

Treating prostate cancer with radiation therapy can, for some men, lead to unwanted side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, difficulty urinating, and bleeding with bowel movements.

To improve patient outcomes and enhance their quality of life after treatment, doctors at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care have added an innovative new technology called SpaceOAR® hydrogel to their prostate cancer treatment capabilities.

SpaceOAR® hydrogel is a gel-like material that temporarily moves the rectal wall away from the prostate during radiation therapy.  The gel’s placement reduces the amount of radiation that the patient’s rectum receives during prostate treatments, which can reduce complications associated with radiation therapy.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that use of the SpaceOAR® rectal spacer in conjunction with curative radiation therapy results in a 66 percent improvement in bowel related quality of life, a 65 percent improvement in bladder related quality of life, and a 78 percent increase in likelihood of preserved erectile function in patients with adequate pre-treatment function.

“Placing the SpaceOAR® is a safe, simple procedure that greatly improves the ability to safely deliver curative radiation therapy for prostate cancer. In addition, because we are significantly decreasing the risk of undesirable side effects, our patients will experience a superior quality of life after treatment,” explains Thomas Kole, M.D., Ph.D., Radiation Oncologist, Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care.  

Furthermore, the SpaceOAR® procedure can be performed in conjunction with prostate fiducial implantation in which four gold markers are inserted into the prostate allowing for precise localization of the prostate during radiation treatment. This complements other image guided radiation therapy methods that are used in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center and allows the Center to offer prostate Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) to selected patients. SBRT involves the delivery of only five high-dose radiation treatments to the prostate compared to the standard course of 44 to 45 treatments. This allows patients to complete their entire treatment in as little as one week. With approximately one in seven men developing prostate cancer in his lifetime, effective treatment options that also maximize a patient’s quality of life are more important than ever.

For more information about prostate cancer treatment at Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care, please call 201-634-5403.