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New Innovation Blocks and Tackles

Men Undergoing Prostate Cancer Treatment Gain Better Defense Against Side Effects

Four or five football fields. In today’s world of precision radiation therapy for cancer, that’s how Dr. Charles Wood describes the amount of space a new treatment system puts between the prostate and other vital organs to ensure they remain healthy.

When Ronald Atwood was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he talked with friends who had also been diagnosed and treated for the disease and asked about their experience. They shared with him some of the challenges they faced during treatment, which included a balloon inserted into the rectum that helped protect their vital organs from radiation. This uncomfortable process occurred prior to each treatment—with most patients receiving treatment once a day over five to nine weeks. But when Ronald first met with his radiation oncologist Dr. Wood, he was surprised and relieved to learn that he’d be the first to benefit from a new breakthrough that eliminated the need for the balloon.

Recently cleared by the FDA, the new system, SpaceOAR hydrogel, provides a new level of protection for the rectum and other organs during radiation treatment for prostate cancer. The SpaceOAR System is injected through the skin into the space between the patient’s prostate and rectum prior to radiation. The gel remains in place for about three months during radiation treatment, and then liquefies, and is absorbed and cleared from the body in the patient’s urine.

“The amount of separation we’re able to achieve between the prostate and rectum with SpaceOAR is about one-half inch or so, which may not sound like much. But when you’re talking about the highly-focused radiation we’re able to deliver today, that might as well be four or five football fields,” said Dr. Wood, the only radiation oncologist in Louisiana who is a Certified Applier of SpaceOAR. “It’s a tremendous amount of space to work with and it’s a huge buffer for the rectum.”

The key advantages of SpaceOAR include better preservation of rectal, bladder and erectile function, resulting in improved quality of life.

“I couldn’t even tell the gel was in my body,” said Ronald. “Now, my cancer is gone, I’m feeling great and I can feel confident knowing that my organs were fully protected during treatment.”

For more information on SpaceOAR, please call Dr. Wood at (225) 767-0847.