Avera Medical Minute AQoP: SpaceOAR hydrogel protects quality of life for patients undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men after skin cancer. The average age of diagnosis is 66.

A new medical device is helping prostate cancer patients undergoing radiation maintain their quality of life.

“There’s your prostate gland, the rectum and there’s the SpaceOAR right in there,” said Dr. Stephen Dick, radiation oncologist at Avera Cancer Institute Mitchell.

Al Ebach sees Dr. Dick at the Avera Cancer Institute at the Avera Cancer Institute in Mitchell. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in early October, radiation is part of Ebach’s treatment plan.

“When we shoot our X-ray beams at the prostate gland, we can give a high dose to the prostate but we’re also giving radiation to the tissues around the prostate, and that would be the lower part of the bladder and also the front part of the rectum. Those are radio sensitive organs,” said Dr. Dick.

In an effort to protect the rectum from radiation, Dr. Dick explains how a new medical device called ‘SpaceOAR’ does just that.

“The SpaceOAR is a hydrogel injection that goes between the back of the prostate and the front part of the rectal wall and it sort of displaces the rectum away from the prostate. So when we’re shooting our X-ray beams, we can hit the SpaceOAR, or the hydrogel patch, and spare the rectum. The SpaceOAR is placed by our urologist Dr. Papadopoulos and it’s an outpatient procedure, usually,” said Dr. Dick.

“By injecting this material in there, it gives a degree of separation of about half an inch,” said Dr. Xenofon Papadopoulos, urologist with Avera Medical Group Urology Mitchell.

Dr. Papadopoulos explains how without SpaceOAR, patients may experience complications or side effects.

“People can have some urgency for defecation or some blood in their stool. These typically are side effects that can be seen fairly early on during radiation treatments and typically get better with time. But if we can avoid them all together, that’s a great benefit to the quality of life of the patient,” said Dr. Papadopoulos.

“I never know it’s there. I didn’t feel it when they put it in and I never have felt it since,” said Ebach.

The procedure itself is very short and is outpatient. Patients go home that same day.

“It’s a new procedure. It is beneficial. It makes sense to get this done together with your radiation treatment for prostate cancer,” said Dr. Papadopoulos.

“I know it’s going to help,” said Ebach.

Dr. Papadopoulos says the SpaceOAR stays in place for about three months and is then absorbed by the body and excreted in the urine.

For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.