Mr Barnaby Chappell, Consultant Urological Surgeon at BMI Goring Hall Hospital, answers frequently asked questions about SpaceOAR, a rectum-sparing treatment for patients having radiotherapy for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK. Around 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime.1
There are a variety of treatments for prostate cancer, one of which is radiotherapy. This is the use of radiation, usually X-rays, to treat cancerous cells.
Because of the proximity of the prostate to the rectum, potential side effects of radiotherapy can include rectal bleeding and bowel dysfunction.
SpaceOAR has been developed to reduce these risks.
What is SpaceOAR Hydrogel?
SpaceOAR stands for Spacing Organs at Risk. It is a hydrogel that is injected into the body, which is designed to reduce radiation damage to the rectum when you are having treatment for prostate cancer.
The treatment involves a minimally invasive procedure, which is done under anaesthetic (it may be either local or general). The gel is injected into the area between your prostate and rectum.
The soft gel acts as a spacer between the prostate and the rectum, reducing how much radiation your healthy tissue is exposed to during radiotherapy treatment.2
What is SpaceOAR made of?
SpaceOAR is called a hydrogel because it is made largely of water. It is made by combining two liquids that come together to make a gel.
The gel is not broken down by radiation, so its effectiveness and safety aren’t affected by radiotherapy treatment.
The gel breaks down and is naturally cleared from your body after three months.3
What are the benefits of using SpaceOAR hydrogel?
Studies have shown that SpaceOAR hydrogel reduces damage to the rectum, a potential side effect of radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
The treatment does this by increasing the space between the rectum and prostate, reducing the likelihood of radiation treatment accidentally affecting the rectum.
Symptoms of this unwanted rectal radiation exposure can include rectal bleeding, bowel dysfunction and incontinence.
These side effects can happen during radiotherapy treatment and can also continue after treatment has finished.4
So, using the hydrogel spacer can potentially reduce both short term and long term rectal damage, both of which could have a significant impact on your quality of life.5
I’m delighted to be offering this procedure in my clinic at BMI Goring Hall Hospital.
How can you prevent prostate cancer?
There are certain things that are thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, including maintaining a healthy weight, regular activity and a balanced, nutritious diet.
However, we still don’t know exactly how to prevent prostate cancer. Because of this, it’s important to be checked regularly.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- A frequent urge to urinate including many times during the night
- Signs of blood in your urine or semen
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Not being able to urinate
Still, prostate cancer does not always present with symptoms, so you should always attend regular checks.
At BMI Goring Hall Hospital, I run a prostate assessment clinic with my colleague Mr Simon Woodhams. If you have any worries, especially if you are experiencing symptoms, get in touch today.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.