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Giving Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects Some Space

When Dan Alexander learned he had prostate cancer only one thought crossed his mind: how would he tell his family? But, he was able to quickly reassure them that because of SpaceOAR, a new and innovative technology offered by Mary Bird Perkins in Hammond, he was receiving the safest and most effective treatment available today.

A New Day
Historically, in order to protect prostate cancer patients’ organs during radiation treatment, it was necessary to insert a balloon into the rectum before every radiation treatment. In Dan’s case, this meant he would endure this procedure a total of 29 times.

“I couldn’t imagine having to go through that time and time again. It’s pretty incredible the technology we have now a days,” said Dan.

“I only had to receive SpaceOAR once and then my organs were fully protected during treatment,” said Dan. “There was no discomfort, no pain. I was able to carry on with visiting my family and enjoying retirement again.”

Dr. Andrew Elson, one of the first certified appliers of SpaceOAR in Louisiana, administered the one-time injection for Dan. “The SpaceOAR Hydrogel is an incredible new technology that allows us to significantly reduce the dose exposure to the front part of the rectum, which is the most likely location for a complication or problem to occur after radiation therapy,” Dr. Elson commented. “This treatment is revolutionary; we are seeing enhanced quality of life and long-term patient satisfaction. Mr. Alexander is one of the many men who has had great success following treatment.”

The Benefits

  • SpaceOAR is one of the few FDA-approved devices ever studied in a randomized clinical trial with several years of data showing proven benefits in terms of reduced risk of a rectal complications, rectal related symptoms and improved quality of life.
  • For every patient undergoing radiation for prostate cancer, the treatment team carefully analyzes the dose that is absorbed by the rectum. It is clear that patients who have received SpaceOAR experience improved rectum protection compared to patients treated before this technology was available.
  • For many years, the treatment team has carefully shaped the radiation dose using complex computerized planning. However, SpaceOAR provides enhanced ability to further protect organs and reduce the risks of side effects or complications.

SpaceOAR

How SpaceOAR Works
The SpaceOAR System is a temporary gel, mostly made of water, which is injected through the skin into the space between the patient’s prostate and rectum prior to radiation. The gel starts as two separate liquids, which are injected simultaneously. After they combine, the solutions immediately form the gel inside the body. The application of SpaceOAR is performed as an outpatient procedure using mild oral sedative medication and local anesthesia to eliminate any discomfort. During the injection, it is also possible to place small gold seeds as markers to help line up the prostate for accurate targeting of each daily treatment. The gel remains in place for about three months during treatment and then liquefies, and is absorbed and cleared from the body.

For more information on SpaceOAR, please call the Cancer Center at (985) 542-5000 or visit marybird.org/prostate.