If your doctor tells you to avoid radiation because it will damage your rectum, you need to get a second opinion. Like most technology, radiation therapy has advanced tremendously and we now have a device that allows us to get high-dose radiation to the prostate to eradicate cancer and avoid the rectum.

Historically, here’s the problem. The prostate is inconveniently located below the bladder, directly in front of the rectum.

Guess what happens if you come for your radiation and your rectum is full? The front of the rectum gets the high dose radiation received by the prostate. If this happens consistently during your radiation treatment, and for a lot of men it does, then over time you were at risk of radiation damage to the rectum.

In the past, we’ve tried to minimize this risk by asking men to have a bowel movement prior to their radiation treatment. For some men this is easily implemented but for others, chronic constipation is a problem and they are at a higher risk. Fortunately, we now have a device that we can insert to protect the rectum. Check out SpaceOar.

SpaceOar Hydrogel and Prostate Cancer Treatment

SpaceOar is a hydrogel that a physician can insert into the space between the rectum and the prostate. Here is a picture from their website that shows the location of the gel.

I recently treated my first prostate patient with the gel and am thrilled with the reduction in radiation dose to the rectum. This patient received just 5 high dose radiation treatments using the Cyberknife and is doing great with no significant side effects PSA remains low.

I feel strongly that gel placement should be covered by insurance and become the standard of care. I am currently able to provide SpaceOar gel placement for my patients through the Provision Proton Center in Knoxville.

Patient-focused treatment, and an individualized approach to oncology means Dr. Norleena Gullett is not just treating cancer, she's treating the whole person.