Gel implant helps patients cope with radiation therapy for prostate cancer

doctor and patient
Photo credit Dreamstime
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A gel-like implant is helping to make prostate cancer treatment easier for men to handle.

Radiation treatment to the prostate can cause big issues with the rectum. It sits directly behind the prostate and will also receive the radiation. 

Dr. Wayne Pinover, a radiation oncologist at Abington-Jefferson Health, says doctors can now use a needle to inject a gel-like substance between the two to create a space. He says when the gel firms up a bit, it puts enough distance between the two to reduce the radiation dose to the sensitive area that doesn't need cancer treatment.

"It gives us a little over a centimeter of space between the prostate and rectum, so it really helps decrease the amount of radiation that the rectum gets, and it's been shown to improve quality for patients who are going through prostate radiation," he said.

"This is going to decrease the rectal side effects." This is going to decrease rectal irritation, diarrhea, change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding issues," he said, "and these are things men can suffer with after radiation."

The gel remains stable for three months and then slowly dissolves and is gone in half a year.