Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men (second to skin cancer), which is why we make fighting prostate cancer one of our top priorities at Rio Grande Urology. In fact, about 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime.
RGU is here to help. Our urologists stay up to date on the latest treatment options to ensure patients get the quality care they need at our El Paso cancer treatment center. That’s why we’ve added a second ultrasound machine at our Remcon location. This machine allows us to place the new SpaceOAR device in patients to protect the rectum from high dose radiation treatments and improve their care through shorter and more efficient treatments.
What Is SpaceOAR?
When providing radiation treatment for cancer, it’s important to be accurate and minimize the impact of radiation on other areas in the body. With prostate cancer, this includes protecting the rectum and minimizing the risk of toxicity. That’s where SpaceOAR comes in. OAR stands for “Organ At Risk.” SpaceOAR is a technology that uses a temporary hydrogel injection to create a physical barrier between the prostate and rectum.
This gel remains in place for three to six months, before being absorbed by the body and eliminated naturally.
How does this help prostate cancer treatment?
The SpaceOAR technology allows for highly concentrated doses of radiotherapy to be delivered to targeted areas of the body. What does this mean for patients? With stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) at RGU, patients can receive fewer treatments over a shorter amount of time. Rather than receiving 44 low dose treatments, patients only have to undergo 5 high dose treatments.
This non-invasive treatment option more accurately targets the cancer while requiring less treatment visits for patients. The hydrogel spacer can also be used with HDR (high-dose rate) prostate brachytherapy, a surgical technique available to high-risk patients who come to RGU’s El Paso cancer treatment center.
“Patients with high-risk disease can receive a brachytherapy boost to better control prostate cancer,” said Dr. Travis Mendel, RGU’s Radiation Oncologist. Dr. Mendel is the only oncologist in the area trained in this technique, which places catheters inside the prostate to provide treatment from the inside out.
What are the side effects?
Side effects of the SpaceOAR technique are minimal. The most common side effect is bowel irritation, frequently experienced as loose bowel movements. The benefits of the gel include significantly less rectal pain during radiotherapy. It also minimizes the risk for long-term rectal complications.