UMC’s new prostate cancer gel could reduce number of radiation visits for patients

Updated: Jun. 26, 2019 at 10:17 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - University Medical Center is praising a new hydrogel oncologist say could reduce the number of radiation treatments for prostate cancer patients; from 30-45 to 5-16 treatments.

UMC’s Radiation Oncology team has introduced the SpaceOAR hydrogel that aids in targeting and treating prostate cancer, according to a hospital news release. This gel creates a temporary .5 cm to 1 cm barrier between the prostate and rectal wall that eliminates the negative effects of radiation to healthy rectums.

Typically, radiation treatments damage the rectum, because it is so close to the prostate. However, doctors say this hydrogel could ward off those effects.

Other facilities in Lubbock offer this kind of treatment, according to the release, but UMC’s Southwest Cancer Center is the only comprehensive cancer center in a nearly 250-mile radius that offers this, according to UMC.

This means there is an element of convenience for patients, because the hydrogel is inserted before radiation in the same building. Most other facilities insert the gel before radiation treatments, according to UMC.

“We have a goal, by using this technology, of lowering the total number of radiation treatments for patients,” Dr. Carlos Torres, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology, said in the release. “Normally, prostate radiation treatments need to be spaced out to allow for the healthy rectal tissue, that got the dose of radiation, to heal before receiving another dose of treatment. Now, we can deliver higher doses of radiation in one sitting with a much lower risk of potential tissue damage and side effects to the rectum.”

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