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SpaceOAR® is an innovative protective agent that can reduce the side-effects of radiotherapy for prostate cancer. The London Clinic is the first hospital in the UK to offer patients this treatment, which can prevent the development of distressing bowel symptoms.

Due to SpaceOAR requiring expert planning, knowledge and use of our in-house advanced MRI imaging, SpaceOAR is only available as part of a course of radiotherapy at The London Clinic.

Radiotherapy treats prostate cancer with high-energy X-rays. The radiation destroys cancerous cells, but it can also damage healthy cells, causing irritation and ulceration in the part of the bowel behind the prostate. Patients can suffer pain, bleeding, diarrhoea and incontinence - a condition known as radiation proctitis.

SpaceOAR® is a high-tech hydrogel that is injected into the space between the prostate and the rectum. It is designed to safely increase the space between the gland and the bowel, so that radiation exposure is reduced. Studies have shown that patients treated with SpaceOAR® prior to radiotherapy had less rectal pain, fewer long-term bowel complications and improved quality of life1.

Why choose the London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families

Questions and concerns

Being diagnosed with cancer can be physically and emotionally draining. Coping with the symptoms of the illness and challenges of treatment can be difficult. Many patients are worried about having any extra procedures. However, treatment with SpaceOAR® can prevent further problems and protect your health and wellbeing.

How long will the gel stay in my body?

The SpaceOAR® hydrogel will stay in place for three months, to protect your rectum during your course of radiotherapy. After six months, the gel is gradually absorbed by the body. It is then broken down and safely excreted in the urine.

Will it hurt?

Even with local anaesthetic the procedure should not be painful. The area will be numbed, so you will only feel the prick of the needle when the local is inserted. Some people feel a little discomfort afterwards, but most men are able to get straight back to normal activities.

Is the gel safe?

The chemical components of the SpaceOAR® hydrogel have been used extensively in surgical treatments elsewhere in the body, including the spine and the eye. Scientific studies have shown that the material can be used safely in the prevention of radiation damage.

Treatment facts

Your specialist will insert the spacing gel between the prostate and the rectum as a short, outpatient procedure.

Diagram showing anatomy with or without SpaceOAR system

The injection can be done with local, regional or general anaesthetic. Your consultant will advise you about the best approach in your case, always considering your feelings and your general health.

After cleaning the area, your consultant will inject the liquid gel through the perineum between the prostate and the rectum. The needle is fine and ultrasound scans will be used to ensure the gel is correctly positioned.

Once in place, the gel acts like a cushion, holding the rectum away from the prostate. This keeps it away from the high-dose radiation area, so that healthy cells are protected from damage.

What are the treatment risks?

There are risks with any procedure. Our surgeons, together with our experienced anaesthetists and nursing staff work to minimise these and support your safe recovery.

  • Bleeding: This is unusual and usually settles with local pressure.
  • Pain:  Some people find the gel uncomfortable after insertion, however over-the-counter painkillers can help with symptom control.
  • Incorrect placement of the gel: This is rare because of the use of ultrasound guidance. However, the manufacturers report occasional problems with injection into the bowel, bladder or blood vessels. This can cause pain, inflammation and tissue damage in these areas.
  • Bowel symptoms: Occasionally the hydrogel can cause bowel disturbance including constipation and bowel urgency.

Treatment recovery

Most people are discharged from The London Clinic on the same day as the procedure. You should expect to go straight back to normal activities. Your specialist will see you before discharge and will advise you if you should take particular precautions.

SpaceOAR® treatment cost

Cancer care at The London Clinic may be covered by insurance. We also offer affordable, competitive self-pay packages for SpaceOAR® treatment. Please call +44 (0)20 3219 3315 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment

[1] Hamstra D, et al. Continued Benefit to Rectal Separation for Prostate RT: Final Results of a Phase III Trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys; Dec. 2016 DOI

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