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SpaceOAR® Hydrogel for Prostate Cancer Treatment

Mary Washington Healthcare Regional Cancer is now offering SpaceOAR® hydrogel as an option for men who undergo radiation treatment for prostate cancer. It acts as a spacer providing space between the rectum and the prostate, making it much less likely that the rectum is exposed to radiation. It is injected into place prior to the start of radiation treatment. Patients may be awake or asleep under general anesthesia for the procedure. SpaceOAR® hydrogel is not painful, remains stable during radiation therapy and then is gradually absorbed by the body after radiation therapy has been completed.

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We Are Committed to Minimizing Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Radiation therapy is extremely effective in treating prostate cancer. Today, survival rate for patients undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer are among the highest of any forms of cancer.

Radiation Therapy technology has greatly improved leading to more targeted treatment; however, the threat of side effects remains. One of the biggest risks of radiation therapy is injury to the rectum, which sits next to the prostate gland.

The severity of these side effects varies from patient-to-patient and is influenced by the dosage and frequency of the radiation therapy. For some patients, these problems are mild and go away on their own. For others, side effects can be debilitating and last years after treatment is completed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

SpaceOAR® hydrogel (OAR stands for “organ at risk” which in this case is the rectum), helps protect your rectum during radiation treatments to the prostate. Naturally, you may have questions about how and why the procedure is done, and what to expect. This section will help to answer many of the questions you may have about the procedure. It is not intended to be a substitute for a thorough discussion with your physician.

If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for, please feel free to contact us at 540.741.0655.

Is It Safe?

SpaceOAR® hydrogel is mostly made of water, is biocompatible and is safely used in the body. Similar hydrogels are used as surgical sealants on the brain, spine, and eyes. SpaceOAR® hydrogel is cleared for use in the United States and approved in countries outside the United States.

Will I Feel Any Pain During or After the Procedure?

Your doctor will use an anesthetic to reduce or eliminate any discomfort with the procedure. Patients that have SpaceOAR® hydrogel implanted typically report no prolonged discomfort after the procedure.

Will This Procedure Interfere With My Normal Activities?

You should be able to immediately resume your normal activities. Always be sure to check with your doctor for any restrictions related to the procedure and your radiation treatment.

Why Should I Have SpaceOAR® Hydrogel?

The goal of radiation therapy is to maximize radiation to the prostate and to avoid radiating surrounding normal tissue. The prostate and rectum are very close and are only naturally separated by a small space. Due to this closeness, prostate radiation therapy can accidentally cause damage to the rectum.

What is SpaceOAR® Hydrogel and How Will It Benefit Me?

SpaceOAR® hydrogel is a gel-like material that temporarily moves the rectal wall away from the prostate during radiotherapy. By separating the prostate from the rectum, SpaceOAR® hydrogel reduces radiation dose delivered to the rectum and may eliminate or reduce damage to the rectum. It may also allow your doctor to enhance radiation treatment to your prostate to better target the cancer or to reduce the total number of treatment sessions.

What Is It Made of and Is It Safe?

SpaceOAR® hydrogel is made of two liquids that when combined form a soft gel-like synthetic material that is mostly made of water. Because of its water content it is called a hydrogel. The material that the SpaceOAR® hydrogel is made from has been used in other implants such as surgical sealants used in the eye, brain and spine. Studies have shown that the material is biocompatible and can be used safely in the body.

Where Is the Procedure Done?

The procedure is commonly done in a hospital, surgery center, outpatient clinic or doctor’s office.

How Is It Implanted?

SpaceOAR® hydrogel is injected between the rectum and the prostate in a minimally invasive procedure.

Will I Be Awake or Asleep During the Procedure?

The procedure can be performed under general, regional or local anesthesia. You should discuss with your doctor which type of anesthesia is best for you.

Do I Have to Do Any Special Preparation Prior to the Procedure?

While there is no required special preparation for the SpaceOAR® hydrogel procedure, your doctor may give you individual instructions on how to prepare for the procedure and for any anesthesia you will receive. Always ask your doctor what you should do in advance of the procedure.

Will I Feel Any Discomfort or Pain During or After the Procedure?

Your doctor will either use an anesthetic that will put you to sleep during the procedure or a local anesthetic that will numb the injection area. You may feel a pinprick or pressure but should not feel any major discomfort. After the procedure you may experience some temporary discomfort at the injection site. SpaceOAR® hydrogel patients typically report no prolonged discomfort from the implanted hydrogel.

How Soon Can I Go Back to My Normal Activities?

SpaceOAR® hydrogel separates your prostate and rectum for about three months, providing protection during radiation treatment, and is naturally absorbed in about six months—well after your last treatment.

To speak to one our specially trained Cancer Nurse Navigators with questions of for more information, please call 540.741.1211.

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