Surgeons give men a little "space" during prostate cancer treatment

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, with more than 60,000 men choosing radiation treatment every year.

Because of the proximity of the rectum to the prostate, radiation therapy can cause unintended damage to the rectum, which can lead to fecal incontinence, chronic diarrhea or other long-lasting side effects.

To reduce the risk of damage to the rectum, CAMC offers SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel, which acts as a spacer between the rectum and the prostate, making it much less likely that the rectum will be exposed to radiation.

The absorbable gel is the first and only FDA-cleared spacer that is injected between the prostate and rectum prior to the start of radiation treatment. It quickly solidifies into a soft gel that expands the space and pushes the rectal wall away from the high-dose radiation area. The hydrogel stays in place for about three months. After about six months, it is naturally absorbed into the body and removed through urine.

Surgeons at CAMC have been offering this pre-treatment option for prostate cancer radiation therapy for nearly five years.

“This has made a tremendous difference in the number of rectal complaints in patients that choose radiation to treat their prostate cancer,” said Samuel Deem, DO, specializing in urology and urologic oncology.

“Placement of the O.A.R. spacer is a well-tolerated outpatient procedure which provides great benefit in reducing the potential toxicity of radiation therapy,” said Nathan Hale, DO, specializing in urology and urologic oncology.

For more information about prostate cancer treatments at CAMC, visit