SpaceOAR Protects the Prostate


NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — This year, more than 162,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Cancer treatment, while life-saving, can cause incontinence and erectile dysfunction. A new outpatient procedure can protect men from the unwanted side effects caused by radiation.

John Schroeder officiates track and cross country meets for kids in his hometown. At 66, this former high school athlete places a premium on staying active and healthy. Several years ago, a routine PSA test indicated John’s levels were higher than normal. Doctors confirmed he had prostate cancer.

Schroeder explained to Ivanhoe, “And they kept saying you’re a young guy, you should have surgery. And I kept thinking, I’m a young guy, why do I want to buy Depends the rest of my life? Why do I want to have erectile dysfunction?”

John also struggled with ulcerative colitis; which could be aggravated by radiation treatments. That’s when John learned about a new FDA- approved hydrogel to protect delicate tissue. It’s a called SpaceOAR. It stands for organ at risk.

Radiation oncologists mix the liquid gel with an accelerant. In an office or outpatient setting, doctors inject the gel near the prostate. It solidifies in the body and creates a space between the prostate and delicate tissue.

“Having the gel move the rectum away from the prostate significantly lowers the dose of radiation that the rectal tissues get,” explained Edward Soffen, MD, Chairman for the Department of Radiation Oncology at CentraState Medical Center. (Read Full Interview)

That means a reduction in side effects like bleeding, pain, and incontinence. The gel stays in place in the body for three months, and then dissolves and is excreted naturally. For John, the SpaceOAR kept him on his feet and free of side effects during radiation, and after.

Right now, the SpaceOAR hydrogel is covered by Medicare on a case-by-case basis. Dr. Soffen says he is hoping insurance carriers will expand coverage of the procedure.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4320

BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably. The prostate is found only in males and it makes some of the fluid that is part of semen. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum, and its size changes with age. In younger men it may be about the size of a walnut, but it can become much larger in older men. Almost all types or prostate cancer are adenocarcinomas, developed from the glands. Other types include sarcomas, neuroendocrine tumors, small cell carcinomas, and transitional cell carcinomas. These other types are rare. Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. Autopsy studies show that many older men who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them throughout their lives. In many cases neither they nor their doctor was aware that they had cancer.


TREATMENT: Depending on each case, treatment for prostate cancer may include surgery, watching and waiting or active surveillance,  radiation therapy, cryotherapy or cryosurgery, hormone therapy, and even chemotherapy. Sometimes even vaccine treatment or bone-directed treatment can be used. Generally these are all used one at a time, but in some cases they may be combined. It’s important to discuss all of your personal treatment options, including side effects and end goals. Some things to consider may be the stage or grade of your cancer, your age and expected life span, any other serious health conditions you have, and even the likelihood that the treatment will cure your cancer or help it in some other way. You may want to seek a second or multiple opinions.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: A newly FDA approved hydrogel called SpaceOAR is reducing rectal injuries in men receiving prostate cancer related radiation therapy. It does so by pushing the rectum away from the prostate. The liquid gel is mixed with an accelerant and doctors inject the gel behind the prostate and in front of the rectum. It solidifies, creating this space. It stays in place for three months, and then dissolves and is excreted naturally. It is safe and similar to other products used in brain surgery, cardiology, and ophthalmology. Like prostate cancer cells, other cells in the rectum are damaged by high dose radiation, which is why the rectum is called the Organ At Risk during prostate radiation therapy. SpaceOAR pushes the rectum out of the high dose radiation region.



Edward Soffen

Abbey Luterick

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


Doctor Q and A

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