Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: Limiting Radiation Exposure When Treating Prostate Cancer


A new product called SpaceOAR is allowing doctors at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital to treat men with prostate cancer and eliminate radiation damage to the rectum at the same time. It’s an important advancement, as about a quarter of the patients seen at the cancer center at the hospital are receiving treatment for prostate cancer. For patients, it’s not a complicated process.

“We take a needle with this liquid inside it and insert it behind the prostate between the prostate and the rectum in what we call the perirectal space,” noted Dr. Sylvia Hendrix, a radiation oncologist at Sentara Martha Jefferson. “As soon as it’s injected it immediately becomes this gel.”

The gel then pushes the rectum away from the prostate so it can be spared from radiation.

“It significantly decreases the dose to the rectum, which translates to fewer complications and even fewer long-term complications as the years go on, so patients have less scaring,” noted Dr. Hendrix.

SpaceOAR is injected during an outpatient procedure where patients are sedated. It’s something most patients are willing to go through for the benefit it provides.

“You can actually give a higher dose of radiation and do it with fewer side effects, so this is really a win-win for our patients,” said Dr. Hendrix.

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Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

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