Radiotherapy Side-Effects

Prostate-Rectum Spacing = Reduced Organ Radiation and Fewer Complications

Prostate radiotherapy and radical prostatectomy 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, diarrhoea).  Now a soft, implantable technology called SpaceOAR hydrogel is available that reduces radiation to the organs (Organs At Risk) surrounding the prostate during radiotherapy. Creating this content space throughout the radiation treatment has been clinically proven to reduce the irradiation side-effects and improve patients quality of life.

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.

Before you can determine which one is best for you, it’s important to perform research, talk to your doctors & patient advocacy groups.

Potential Side-effects of OAR Radiation Exposure:

  • Diarrhoea
  • 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.

✓ Bowel: 66% fewer SpaceOAR hydrogel patients experienced clinically significant declines in detectable bowel quality of life (1X the Minimal Important Difference) 1

✓ Urinary: 65% fewer SpaceOAR hydrogel patients experienced clinically significant declines (2X the Minimal Important Difference) in detectable urinary quality of life 1

✓ Sexual: 78% SpaceOAR hydrogel patients were more likely to retain sexual function at 3 years if they had erections sufficient for intercourse at baseline 2

After radiation treatment is over the hydrogel naturally absorbed, leaving nothing behind.

“Doctors explained the new treatment involved inserting a small blob of gel – about the size and shape of my little finger – which temporarily positions the prostate away from the rectum. There has been no sign of nasty side-effects from the radiotherapy so it looks like the gel has done its job. I’m back to playing golf and enjoying life again.” – Gordon Robinson, 70

Gordon’s story was featured in the Daily Mail, read more about Gordons Radiotherapy experience with SpaceOAR Hydrogel.

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  1. Hamstra D, et al. Continued Benefit to Rectal Separation for Prostate RT: Final Results of a Phase III Trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys; Dec. 2016 DOI
  2. Hamstra D, et al. Evaluation of sexual function on a randomized trial of a prostate rectal spacer. J Clin Oncol 35, 2017 (suppl 6S; abstract 69)