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UMC Radiation Oncology Introduces New Technologies for Prostate Cancer Patients

  • UMC Southwest Cancer Center becomes first cancer center in an approximate 250-mile radius to offer SpaceOAR® Hydrogel.
  • UMC Radiation Oncologists anticipate fewer radiation treatments for prostate cancer patients as a result.
  • UMC Radiation Oncologists also introduced Gold Anchor fiducial markers to better target treatment.

UMC’s Radiation Oncology team recently introduced new treatment technologies, in the UMC Southwest Cancer Center, that will change the face of care for prostate cancer patients forever.

The first of these is SpaceOAR® Hydrogel. Radiation therapy is extremely effective in targeting and treating prostate cancer, but because the prostate is so close to the rectal wall, sometimes there can be damage to healthy tissue of the rectum, causing negative side effects. SpaceOAR® hydrogel is an absorbable hydrogel that temporarily creates a .5cm to 1cm barrier between the prostate and the rectal wall, which can eliminate toxicity to the healthy rectum.

“We have a goal, by using this technology, of lowering the total number of radiation treatments for patients,” said Dr. Carlos Torres, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology. “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.” Dr. Torres said this technology should allow him and his team to cut the number of radiation treatments from about 30 to 45 treatments to around 5 to 16 treatments.

Although there are other facilities in town who offer this treatment, the UMC Southwest Center Center is the only comprehensive cancer center in an almost 250-mile radius to offer it. This means convenience for patients: the SpaceOAR® is inserted before the patient receives radiation therapy in the same building. Other facilities may require patients to receive the SpaceOAR® with a urologist before traveling to a cancer center for radiation therapy.

Our Radiation Oncologists also introduced new Gold Anchor fiducial markers that anchor to the prostate tissue in treatments. This allows them to keep track of the prostate and its movement during radiation treatments, which ensures the treatment is targeting the correct area. The markers used by most, don’t anchor and can therefore move around with the prostate, resulting in the possibility of treatment not being targeted as precisely.

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