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Gel Could Protect Prostate Cancer Patients From Side Effects Of Radiation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was good news Monday, for the hundreds of thousands of men trying to decide which treatment to undergo after a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported, a simple gel could reduce the risk of side effects from radiation therapy.

John Schroeder is in many ways, a typical prostate cancer patient, he's 66, healthy, but with a PSA level that had been climbing for a few years.

"I did the biopsy just to prove that I did not have prostate cancer, and that came back positive," he said.

So like most men in his position he had to choose between surgery and radiation.

"I didn't want surgery. I woulda had the surgery as the last thing I would do. i wanted radiation," he said.

Trouble is, John has ulcerative colitis, and because of where the prostate sits in the pelvis, radiation was out of the question.

"There's certain side-effects to any form of radiation that have to do with the tissues that are right around the prostate, and that's the bladder and the rectum. So men can get the bladder or rectal irritation, sometimes they can get bleeding or ulceration," Dr. Edward Soffen said.

Then, John heard of a new material the FDA had approved to protect the rectum during prostate radiation. It's a kind of gel called Space-O-A-R.

The idea to simply to separate the prostate from surrounding tissues.

"It doesn't absorb or block the radiation. It just moves the rectum out of the way enough for the beam to come in and not hit the rectal tissues," Dr. Soffen said.

Dr. Soffen demonstrated how it's done on a training model for CBS2's cameras. Under ultrasound guidance, a long needle injects the gel in the space between the prostate and rectum. The soft cushion lasts at least three months after which it harmlessly dissolves.

John was able to safely have 44 radiation treatments.

"No problems with the ulcerative colitis. I had a colonoscopy last month, and I still have ulcerative colitis, but there was no damage done to the rectum, no damage done to the colon," he said.

The gel costs about $3,000 and so far is covered on a case by case basis, although medicare is considering approving it.


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