SpaceOAR stands for Spacing Organs at Risk. It’s a water-based gel (hydrogel) placed between the prostate and anus in men going through radiation therapy for prostate cancer. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system. It’s found close to the rectum, or the lower part of the large intestine. The purpose of the SpaceOAR gel is to reduce “rectal toxicity” or radiation enteropathy. That’s when the lining of the intestines (bowels) are damaged due to radiation therapy.
The gel contains more than 90 percent water and is considered safe. It works by making extra space between the prostate and rectum. The process to place the gel is a minimally invasive procedure and takes about 30 minutes. A doctor will insert a small needle into the space between the prostate and rectum. The gel pushes the rectum outside of the zone for radiation. This allows less radiation meant for the prostate to hit the rectum, which helps to keep normal rectal function.
Men who get SpaceOAR gel are often able to go on with their normal activities right away. The gel remains in place for about 3 months, which is roughly the length of time for radiation therapy. After that, the gel is absorbed into the body and eliminated through urine. Nothing is left behind and side effects are rare.
SpaceOAR gel can be helpful for men who need radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer, but this gel is not for everyone, so check with your doctor.
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