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Radiation Therapy Side Effects

All prostate cancer treatments, with the exception of active surveillance, can cause side effects for the patient. Due to its effectiveness and increased accuracy in targeting only the cancer cells within the prostate, radiation therapy is a commonly recommended form of treatment. Patients undergoing radiation therapy can, however, experience side effects during and after treatment, including:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Urinary incontinence, urgency and frequency
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Rectal bleeding and painful bowel movements
  • Diarrhea

The severity of these side effects varies from patient to patient, and is influenced by the dosage and frequency of the radiation therapy. We are dedicated to helping patients maintain the highest quality of life during and after treatment. For patients receiving radiation therapy, we offer SpaceOAR, a revolutionary system that helps to protect the rectum of patients undergoing radiation therapy with clinically proven results.

What is SpaceOAR?

SpaceOAR Hydrogel is a system designed to reduce rectal injury in men who are receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer. Side effects of radiation therapy are typically caused by radiation damage to neighboring organs, such as the rectum. SpaceOAR acts as a spacer for an organ at risk (OAR) – pushing the rectum away from the prostate so that it won’t receive the high dose radiation being directed at the prostate gland.

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How Does SpaceOAR Work?

The SpaceOAR hydrogel spacer is put in place during a minimally-invasive procedure. Once this spacer is in place, patients cannot usually feel it. This system is similar to other products that may be used to protect patients in cardiology, ophthalmology and brain surgery. The spacer will remain in place for three months to protect the rectum during radiation treatment. After this time has passed, the spacer is absorbed by the body and excreted in the patient’s urine.


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Benefits of SpaceOAR System

Some of the notable benefits of the SpaceOAR System for prostate cancer patients include:

  • Less risk of damage to the rectum.– SpaceOAR moves the rectum further away from the target of radiation treatment, thus reducing the amount of damage to rectal tissue.
  • Fewer rectal side effects and complications. – With SpaceOAR in place during radiation treatment, patients are less likely to experience rectal side effects, including mucus discharge, rectal bleeding, rectal urgency, diarrhea and rectal pain.
  • Minimally-invasive. – The placements of SpaceOAR hydrogel are minimally-invasive and causes very little discomfort.
  • Quick, easy recovery.– Following the placement procedure, most patients are able to return to their normal activities immediately with little to no restrictions.
  • No need for removal. – The body will begin to absorb SpaceOAR after three months and it will be completely absorbed in approximately six months, so there is no need to have it removed. Once the hydrogel is absorbed, nothing foreign will remain in the body.
  • Painless and non-disruptive. – Patients don’t typically feel SpaceOAR while it is in place. It doesn’t disrupt the patient’s life or cause any noticeable side effects.
  • Low risk of side effects and complications. – Although side effects and complications are possible after any surgical procedure, the risk of problems following placement of SpaceOAR is relatively low.

Studies have shown that SpaceOAR’s material is biocompatible and can be used safely in the body. This technology has also been cleared by the FDA, and it has been used successfully by more than 10,000 prostate cancer patients.

SpaceOAR Clinical Studies

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Published results of a randomized clinical trial on the SpaceOAR system demonstrate that the spacer was safe, that patients tolerated it well, and that the spacer significantly reduced rectum radiation injury. This reduced rectal radiation decreased reports of pain during radiation treatment, and 1 year after radiation treatment decreased the rectum complications by 71%.

In the year following radiation treatment, clinical trial patients that did not get SpaceOAR System were 3.5 times more likely to have rectal complications than those who did.

Additional Resources:

Published Article: Clinical Investigation of Prostate Radiation Therapy