Treatment options: There are two very effective ways of treating and curing Prostate Cancer, Surgery and Radiation Therapy.
How Radiation Works: The two modalities for Radiation Therapy involve external beam therapy, where the radiation enters from the outside and is targeted to the area of interest, and brachytherapy which targets the area of interest from the inside by use of radioactive sources.
Side Effects: As with any treatment, there are potential side effects. The two potentially serious side effects of radiation for prostate cancer is an injury or “burn” of the anterior rectum and the other is to the Urethra (urine drainage tube) that drains the urine through the prostate and penis. Until recently, the most serious was the rectal injury or “burn”. In its most serious form, the injury leads to an ulceration of the lining of the rectum. When the stool with very high concentrations of bacteria passes, this leads to persistent infections. This may cause diarrhea, pain, bleeding and frequent uncontrolled bowel movements and fecal incontinence (soiled pants).
Research and Development: The Cancer Center of Irvine, with funding from the Medici Foundation, developed a technique to “protect” the rectum. Recently, the FDA approved this material called SpaceOAR which accomplishes this protection.
Spacer Material: To help avoid this injury, the space between the prostate and rectum is increased by injecting an absorbable gel. This can push the rectum away from the prostate by ½ to 1 inch, which is out of the high dose radiation area. For radiation, this is an enormous distance and dramatically enhances the safety for the rectum. The distance allows the Doctors to be more aggressive in treating the prostate and lead to higher cure rates.
Data: The Cancer Center of Irvine is the lead developer of the spacer material and we have dramatically decreased the rectal symptoms and injuries. We have treated over 820 patients with this technology with amazing results.
1998 - Dr. Tokita first saw a young actress have a gel injected into her face by a Plastic Surgeon. He felt this may have potential for protecting the rectum from radiation injury.
2002 - 7 different groups applied to the FDA for separate ways of protecting the rectum during prostate radiation.
2003 – Dr. Tokita solely received the only approval to pursue this research.
2008 - The trial concluded, 115 patients were successfully injected and treated.
2010 - Paper presented at a national meeting, and Dr. Tokita moved to a new more effective material called Ethylene Glycol (DuraSeal) used in Brain and Spinal cord surgery. He then developed the specifications for a company called Augmenix, who later developed SpaceOAR.
2015 - FDA gave official approval for the Augmenix (SpaceOAR material).
Over 35,000 patients receive radiation treatment for prostate cancer every year. Patients will greatly benefit from SpaceOAR, the rectal protection material, and will lead to probable increases in cure rates.