Prostate cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in men in the United States, affecting about 1 in 8 males. Radiation therapy is one method used in treating prostate cancer, using external beam radiation to directly target the tumor site. Although radiation has the impact to cure prostate cancer, it can often leave behind damaging side effects. Fortunately, Moffitt's Radiation oncology team is improving patient outcomes through the use of hydrogel spacers.
Radiation oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center shared insight on the impact that SpaceOAR hydrogel provides for prostate cancer patients.
What is SpaceOAR hydrogel and how does it work?
SpaceOAR is a hydrogel that is water soluble and injected between the prostate and the rectum widening the gap between the two to 1-1.5 cm. By pushing the prostate away from the rectum, the radiation dose to the rectum is reduced, thereby lowering the risk of damage.
"Our team has provided rectal protection for over 1,000 patients diagnosed with prostate cancer, continuing to offer the most innovative therapies and state of the art technology to eradicate diseases and improve patient outcomes."- Jose Penagaricano, MD
What are the benefits of this procedure for prostate cancer patients going through radiation?
The separation between the prostate and rectum provided by the gel can lower the radiation dose to the rectum and potentially lower the dose to the neurovascular structures.
With modern radiation techniques, curative radiation for prostate cancer can now be delivered in fewer treatments with limited side effects. However, the challenge with prostate radiation has always been the proximity of the prostate to the rectum. There are just a couple of millimeters of connective tissue between the two organs. As a result, part of the rectum receives a high dose of radiation which puts patients at risk for radiation proctitis and other gastrointestinal side effects.
With the use of SpaceOAR, the dose to the rectum can be dramatically minimized and in many cases, the dose is close to zero. Data also suggests that SpaceOAR reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction from radiation therapy.
Who best qualifies to administer this procedure?
A radiation oncologist or urologist with ultrasound-guided transperineal experience.
What have the results/outcomes been?
A recent clinical trial showed that utilizing the gel provided a significant reduction in the incidence of rectal ulcers when compared to historic data.
"Moffitt physicians were the first in the Tampa Bay area to provide this intervention that can drastically improve quality of life for prostate cancer survivors."- Ronica Nanda, MD
Is there any difference between SpaceOAR hydrogel and other spacers, such as Barrigel?
Barrigel is a different formulation than SpaceOAR. It offers similar spacing capabilities as other gel spacers previously used. The main difference between these products is how it is placed between the rectum and the prostate.
How long has SpaceOAR been offered at Moffitt Cancer Center?
SpaceOAR has been offered to eligible patients at Moffitt and Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater (Moffitt radiation oncology partnership site) since 2018, although our brachytherapists were some of the first to use a non-formulary duraseal gel, to provide rectal protection for over a decade. Moffitt is one of the first adopters of perirectal gel spacer in the nation.
If you’d like to refer a patient to Moffitt Cancer Center, complete our online form or contact a physician liaison for assistance. As part of our efforts to shorten referral times as much as possible, online referrals are typically responded to within 24 - 48 hours.