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An exciting breakthrough in radiation treatment of patients with prostate cancer has been unfolding at Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center (SNCC).

This accelerated short course intensity modulated radiation therapy, with SpaceOAR® Hydrogel implantation, delivers with speed precision and improved safety. Treatments involving radiation therapy are an outpatient procedure and take place at Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center’s Pine Lake location. In addition, SNCC provides care at two locations in Lincoln and to 11 outreach communities in southeast Nebraska.

“We are the first and only medical facility in Nebraska to offer this advanced technology,” said Dr. Joseph Kam Chiu, a radiation oncologist with 31 years of experience. “It’s fitting this breakthrough is available locally only at SNCC, since our motto is ‘leading cancer care.’ The accelerated radiation schedule for treatment of prostate cancer is exciting news for patients,” said Dr. Chiu.

SpaceOAR hydrogel (OAR stands for “organ at risk” which in this case is the rectum), helps protect the rectum during radiation treatments to the prostate. It is cleared for use in the United States and approved in countries outside the United States.

SpaceOAR hydrogel is an option for men who undergo radiation treatment for prostate cancer. It acts as a spacer, providing space between the rectum and the prostate, making it much less likely that the rectum is exposed to high dose radiation. It may also enhance radiation treatment to the prostate to better target the cancer or to reduce the total number of treatment sessions.

Today, survival rate for patients undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer are among the highest of any forms of cancer.

How it works

Computer-generated images are used to plan and deliver the radiation dose. In a single 360-degree rotation, a linear accelerator revolves around the patient, delivering in just two to five minutes a sculpted, tightly-focused beam of radiation directly to a tumor. The high-energy x-rays treat the tumor, sparing the rectum and bladder.

The streamlined process results in better tumor targeting and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue. It also reduces the amount of time a patient spends in radiation treatment.

Clinical trials in Europe and the United States have demonstrated that the hydrogel is safe and that the space created significantly reduces the radiation delivered to the rectum. In the late 1990’s, Dr. Chiu was in Houston and worked on the team that pioneered intensity modulated radiation therapy. Through research and clinical trials, there has been much effort to improve treatment outcome and radiation treatment toxicity.


“The accelerated prostate radiation treatment schedule will be very appealing for patients who are pressed for time and simply cannot devote the eight to nine weeks of treatment that exists through conventional radiation therapy,” said Dr. Chiu.

The most significant limiting factor of prostate cancer radiation treatment revolves around potential side-effects particularly at the rectum. Dr. Chiu said results linked to the SpaceOAR treatment have revealed fewer concerns connected to possible side-effects such as radiation proctitis and, surprisingly, impotence and erectile dysfunction.

New data supports early intervention with chemotherapy for patients with systemic failure is also intriguing.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66. Fortunately, prostate cancer is one of the most treatable malignancies, if detected early.

To determine what radiation therapy is right for you, contact Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center at (402) 420-7000.

SpaceOAR® Hydrogel is a registered trademark of Augmenix.


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