physician doing an ultrasound on male patient

The Loma Linda University urology department — in partnership with Loma Linda University Health radiation oncology — has added the use of Space OAR hydrogel on localized prostate cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, in an effort to protect quality of life and minimize side effects. 

For the 1 in 9 men who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, 91 percent of those are most likely to be localized — meaning it has not spread to other organs. The most common treatment for this type of prostate cancer is some form of radiation therapy. Unfortunately, that type of treatment can have side effects that effect the rectum and bowel function because of their close proximity to the prostate.

To combat this, urologists at Loma Linda Univeristy Health now inject a gel between the prostate and the rectum to create a space between the two. This allows the patient to receive whatever dose of radiation treatment needed to their prostate, without harm to neighboring organs and body parts. 

Urology specialist Herbert C. Ruckle, MD, chair of Loma Linda University Health’s Urology Department, says he is grateful that this new preventative treatment is now in place to enhance his patients’ quality of life.

“This hydrogel fills an important niche,” Ruckle says. “It separates the rectal wall from the prostate and helps patients get the full dose of radiation they need to treat the prostate cancer, all while protecting the rectum wall, and hence minimizing side effects and preserving quality of life.”

Patients in Stages 1 to 3 are eligible for the treatment. Ruckle says the procedure takes approximately 10 minutes. A local numbing medication is administered, and then a needle is placed between the rectum in the prostate where the gel is injected. The gel hardens within seconds. It will dissolve over a three-month period. 

Ruckle says the procedure adds peace of mind for physicians.“The patient can receive the optimal dose of radiation to treat the prostate cancer and not be limited by concern of radiation toxicity to the rectal wall.”

At Loma Linda University Health, physicians are constantly looking for or creating the latest advancements in medicine to give patients the highest quality of life during one of the most difficult times in their life. If you or someone you know would like to learn more or take advantage of this new treatment, please visit the Prostate Cancer Care website or call 1-800-782-2623.