Dr. James Gray
My own journey in prostate cancer personally started about a year and a half ago. What I feared about being diagnosed was just knowing that I was going to have to go through the process. I had the same common fears that any patient would have, what are going to be the side effects in me personally.
I’ve been a radiation oncologist for over 30 years now. As a radiation oncologist I get to see virtually the entire spectrum of cancer patients. I was in a position where I was in one of the earlier stages of the disease. So, I could make a choice.
I had essentially surgery as a choice, and I had radiation as a choice.
I’ve been treating prostate cancer for a long time. And one of the issues we have using radiation in any mechanism is that there are sensitive organs nearby. Primarily we worry about the bladder and the rectum. The problem is the prostate and the rectum live right next to each other. So how do you actually give radiation to one and not to the other?
So, treating prostate cancer is easier if you can keep the rectum a little bit out of the way. When it came to me personally, it was more, you’re not going to treat me unless I have SpaceOAR applied for me. This new mechanism of inserting a hydrogel between the prostate and the rectum in a very minimally invasive mechanism, very minimally invasive manner that allows you to keep prostate and the rectum just a little bit separate from each other, it really gives you an advantage.
"You're not going to treat me unless I have SpaceOAR applied for me."
It was tested in a clinical trial several years ago and proven to reduce the likelihood that the rectum would be irritated as a result of treating the very nearby prostate. So, when I learned about it, it was to me a no brainer. This is going to be a great improvement in how we can do radiation treatment. And I started offering it to my patients. So, it’s one of those kinds of win-wins that we come across in medicine every once in a while, that allows us to improve our outcomes without having to pay a large price in how much is this going to cost or are there downsides to this.
Like most of my patients, once the SpaceOAR was applied to me, I couldn’t tell a difference.
I didn’t have any difference in my bowel function or my urinary function. So, it helped confirm for me, yeah, this actually doesn’t hurt that much. And yeah, you walk out of here almost like it wasn’t done. That’s very gratifying. But knowing then and seeing my own CT scan and I know that we’re going to be able to execute a plan to treat my prostate without including my rectum in part of that planning, it really hit home.
This was not just one of my patients. This was me. This was my pelvis on that screen. And I could see that I was going to be able to treat my prostate more effectively without involving the rectum. So, it was kind of an eye-opening experience.
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