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New treatment reduces side-effects of radiotherapy in prostate cancer patients

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Prostate cancer patients at The London Clinic are some of the first in the UK to be treated with a new high-tech gel that has been designed to protect men from the side-effects of radiotherapy treatment that can cause long-term problems such as rectal damage.

Oringinally published by The London Clinic [July 2018]

New treatment technique reduces side-effects of radiotherapy in prostate cancer patients

  •  First patients in UK treated in London with new high-tech gel
  • Gel protects prostate cancer patients from negative effects of radiotherapy such as damage to the rectal wall
  • New treatment technique may benefit thousands more patients

Twelve patients have been treated at our hospital with SpaceOAR hydrogel, a minimally invasive spacing gel that is injected between the prostate and the rectum. After being injected in liquid form, the gel solidifies and temporarily positions the rectal wall away from the prostate during radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

Radiotherapy is one of the most common form of treatment for prostate cancer, using high-energy X-rays to destroy cancerous cells. As the prostate lies next to the rectum, some of these X-rays pass through the rectal wall and may cause damage: pain, bleeding, ulceration and urgency. The condition is called radiation proctitis.

Using the soft gel, specialists can target the prostate gland with the knowledge that the risk of damaging the patient’s rectal wall has been significantly reduced. The gel, which is mostly made from water, stays in place for between three and six months, after which it breaks down and is absorbed naturally by the patient’s body.

Dr Simon Hughes, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The London Clinic, explains:“As with any treatment breakthrough, we are still gathering evidence, and which patients are likely to derive the most benefit.

“Using existing state-of-the-art radiotherapy techniques, there is still a small chance of significant damage to the rectum due to the anatomy of the region – as the rectum is located just behind the prostate gland.

“The gel acts as a spacer, moving the rectum away from the prostate gland. This enables us to deliver radical treatment to the prostate whilst minimising the radiation dose received by the rectum – reducing the side effects of treatment.”

Neil Livingstone, Head of Radiotherapy at The London Clinic, comments: “This gel is simple to use and The London Clinic is delighted to be pioneering this new treatment technique. We are carefully monitoring the performance of the gel and we are hopeful that in the future, this technique will become the gold standard for patients receiving radiotherapy to the prostate. It will be able to help thousands of men undergoing radiotherapy in both the NHS and private hospitals in the UK.”

“Augmenix are delighted about the adoption of SpaceOAR® Hydrogel at The London Clinic,” said Stephen McGill, Vice President & General Manager, International. “The London Clinic is one of the most prestigious hospitals in the UK and their continued adoption of SpaceOAR offers men the chance to reduce life-changing radiation side-effects such as acute rectal pain, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. This offering speaks volumes about how prostate-rectum spacing technology is rapidly becoming the standard of care for men worldwide.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. According to Prostate Cancer UK, over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and over 330,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer in the UK.

Belfast City Hospital, part of Belfast Health and Social Trust, has become the first NHS site to use SpaceOAR hydrogel as part of a trust sponsored clinical trial.