SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel

Protecting Healthy Tissue During Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy

When treating prostate cancer, Jupiter Medical Center’s radiation oncologists offer men several options that are effective in treating the disease while minimizing side effects.

Patients receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer benefit from SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel. SpaceOAR is a soft gel that temporarily creates space between the prostate and the rectum. By gently nudging the rectum away from the prostrate, the hydrogel protects the healthy tissue of the rectum from the high dose radiation needed to treat the cancer cells.

“OAR” stands for “organ at risk,” which in the case of prostate cancer, is the rectum. The hydrogel puts “Space” between the prostate and the rectum, which is responsible for evacuating stool.

SpaceOAR hydrogel is injected in a minimally invasive procedure about one week prior to radiation therapy. Patients typically do not feel the gel, which stays in place throughout the course of radiation treatment. Over the course of several months, the hydrogel is absorbed into the body and gradually excreted in the urine.

Made mostly of water, similar hydrogels have a long safety history. Hydrogels with similar properties are used during surgery in the eye, brain, heart and spine.

SpaceOAR hydrogel can be used in all types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, including external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), and brachytherapy (internal radiation).

Types of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

There are two main types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer: external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy (internal radiation).

In EBRT, radiation is focused on the prostate gland using a machine outside the body. EBRT is often used to cure prostate cancer. Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is an advanced form of image-guided, external radiation therapy that delivers a high dose of radiation with the greatest precision. Using SBRT, fewer sessions are typically needed than with conventional external radiation therapy.

Brachytherapy is internal radiation therapy, meaning the radiation is emitted from within inside the prostate. There are two forms of brachytherapy. The first is low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy. LDR brachytherapy uses small radioactive pellets, or “seeds,” which are placed directly into the prostate while the patient is under anesthesia. The pellets stay inside the body and gradually emit the radiation dose to destroy the cancer cells.

The second form of brachytherapy is high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. HDR brachytherapy uses a radioactive source that travels into the prostate through temporarily placed catheters and emits the radiation dose for approximately 10 minutes before the source and catheters are removed. The catheters are placed while the patient is under anesthesia.

Internal radiation therapy is often used in men with slow-growing, early-stage prostate cancer. Internal radiation may be combined with external radiation for patients with more advanced or higher risk disease.

Jupiter Medical Center’s oncology teams have extensive experience treating prostrate cancer using a variety of advanced techniques. Our radiation oncologists will develop a treatment plan and recommend a radiation therapy that will be most effective for your cancer, with a goal of minimizing side effects. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please call 561-263-4400.