Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, and an estimated 1.1 million men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 according to Globocan. The report also estimate that 307,000 people died from prostate cancer the same year. Radiation therapy remains one of the standard treatment options for men with prostate cancer. Alone or in combination with other treatment options, it represents a curative treatment that has shown to prolong survival.
However, as with any treatment, radiation therapy is not without potential side effects. The most common short-term side effect is diarrhea, caused by radiation irritating the lining of the bowel. While this gradually gets better for most people after a few weeks, some continue to struggle with this several years following the treatment. The most common long term side effect is proctitis, an inflammation of the lining of the rectum. This can cause rectal pain, continuous sensation that you need to have a bowel movement, bleeding, and some also have a slimy mucous discharge. This forces the clinicians into a compromise – deliver enough radiation to kill the cancer, or reduce the radiation to have acceptable side effects.
The SpaceOAR system was granted FDA clearance following completion of a prospective, multicenter, randomized clinical trial. Patients who received the SpaceOAR system experienced a significant reduction in rectal radiation dose and severity of late rectal toxicity compared to the control patients.