WATERTOWN — Samaritan’s Walker Center for Cancer Care has added an innovative pre-treatment option for prostate cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy: SpaceOAR Hydrogel.
SpaceOAR Hydrogel is the first and only FDA-cleared spacer that aims to reduce rectal complications and help patients maintain their quality of life after radiation treatment and is clinically shown to help reduce the risk of side effects after radiation treatment.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, with more than 183,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Annually, more than 60,000 American men opt to treat their prostate cancer with radiation.
Because of the proximity of the prostate to the rectum, prostate radiation therapy can cause unintended damage to the rectum, which can lead to long-lasting side effects. SpaceOAR Hydrogel is an absorbable gel inserted via a minimally invasive procedure that creates a temporary space between the prostate and the rectum, allowing the doctor to complement the patient’s radiation treatment to better target their cancer while preserving healthy tissue.
The hydrogel spacer remains in place for about three months. After about six months, the hydrogel is naturally absorbed and cleared from the body in the patient’s urine.
“SpaceOAR is an important advance that reduces the radiation dose to the rectum during radiation treatments, helping to prevent unwanted side effects,” said Dr. Justin Budnik, radiation oncologist at the Walker Center, in a statement about the pre-treatment option. “We understand men diagnosed with prostate cancer have some difficult decisions to make, but knowing that an option like SpaceOAR Hydrogel can help limit the risk of damage to other organs during radiation treatment will hopefully make a few of those decisions easier.”
SpaceOAR Hydrogel is made up of two liquids that, when combined, form a soft gel material mostly made of water. According to a release from Samaritan, studies have shown that the material is biocompatible, meaning that it can be used in the body without causing injury or a reaction, and that it can be safely absorbed by the body. SpaceOAR Hydrogel is made from materials that are used in other implants, such as surgical sealants used in the eye, brain and spine.
FDA clearance was granted for SpaceOAR Hydrogel following completion of a prospective, multicenter, randomized clinical trial. SpaceOAR patients experienced a significant reduction in rectal radiation dose and severity of late rectal toxicity when compared to control patients who did not receive SpaceOAR Hydrogel.
The full clinical trial results have been published in the peer-reviewed Red Journal.