Patients & Families

Reduced Rectal Radiation = Fewer Complications

If you or a loved one has prostate cancer you may be considering the multiple options for treatment. Before you can determine which one is best for you, it’s important to perform research, talk to your doctors & patient advocacy groups.

Radical prostatectomy and prostate radiotherapy have been shown to be the two most successful treatments for low and intermediate grade prostate cancer. Historically the most common complications following radical prostatectomy were related to urinary system injury (incontinence, erectile dysfunction), while complications following prostate radiotherapy were often related to rectal radiation injury (bleeding, diarrhea).  Now a new technology called SpaceOAR hydrogel is available that reduces rectal injury during prostate radiotherapy, potentially simplifying the decision process for patients deciding which treatment to undergo.

Rectal injury can occur during prostate cancer radiation treatment because the rectum sits next to the prostate and can consequently receive high radiation doses. To reduce this injury, SpaceOAR hydrogel physically pushes the rectum away from the prostate during treatment thereby reducing both the rectal radiation dose and side effects.

Potential Side Effects Due to Prostate Radiation Treatment:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Mucus Discharge
  • Rectal Pain
  • Rectal Urgency

If present, these side effects are often temporary for many men. But some men have symptoms that persist for years and that require treatment or, in rare circumstances, surgery to improve bowel function.

Since the prostate and the rectum sit next to each other, some prostate radiation can injure the rectum, causing complications.

SpaceOAR hydrogel provides about 1 cm (1/2 inch) of extra space between the prostate and the rectum, significantly reducing the radiation dose to the rectum. Also, movement of the rectum and prostate during radiation treatment further increases the potential for harmful rectal radiation. The SpaceOAR System helps avoid rectal injury in this case as well.

After radiation treatment is over the hydrogel completely absorbs, leaving nothing behind.

Learn More About Prostate Cancer in Our Education Section

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