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Great Britain

Innovative cancer implant reduces side effects of treatment by 70 per cent

A NORTH East hospital has become the first NHS hospital in the North to offer an innovative new implant to prostate cancer patients which can reduce radiotherapy side effects by up to 70 per cent.

James Cook University Hospital is using SpaceOAR® hydrogel, which is injected into the space between the prostate and the rectum before treatment to reduce radiation exposure and minimise damage to healthy tissue.

The gel has been clinically proven to significantly reduce bowel side effects, as well as showing a trend towards reducing bladder side effects and erectile dysfunction.

By creating a space of more than 1cm between the prostate and rectum, SpaceOAR® hydrogel helps the radiotherapy team further utilise the state-of-the art radiotherapy equipment used at James Cook to reduce radiation exposure to the rectum and concentrate more precisely on delivering the required radiation treatment to the prostate gland.

The gel remains in place for about six months, after which it is naturally absorbed by the patient’s body.

Maurice Tomlinson became the first NHS patient in the north to benefit from the SpaceOAR® hydrogel implant on Tuesday, June 18.

Mr Tomlinson, 68, of Kirkby-in-Cleveland, near Stokesley, is set to undergo four weeks of radiotherapy for prostate cancer and is hoping the implant will minimise any side effects so that he can get back to sailing and caravanning as soon as possible.

“It’s quite exciting to be part of something new, and if it helps to benefit other people in the future then so much the better,” said Mr Tomlinson, who is now urging all men to think about prostate cancer.

His wife Ros added: “Cancer is such a frightening word but there seems to be steps forward all the time. This new treatment gives me peace of mind as it should reduce any side effects.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with more than 40,000 new cases diagnosed in England each year. When it is caught early enough radiotherapy can be highly effective, but it can damage surrounding tissue which can cause unpleasant side effects.

Consultant oncologist Darren Leaning said: “It is fantastic to be the first hospital in the North to offer this innovative technology to an NHS patient and we look forward to offering this procedure to all eligible patients on a regular basis in the very near future. Studies show that side effects such as rectal pain, bleeding and diarrhoea can be reduced by more than 70 per cent when using the gel, significantly improving quality of life for those battling prostate cancer.”

The treatment has been made available thanks to the NHS Innovation Technology Payment (ITP) programme which is driven by NHS England to help fund technology innovative market-ready medical devices, diagnostics, digital platforms and technologies which have demonstrated improvement to the quality and efficiency of patient care.

Whilst the NHS ITP scheme is active selected NHS hospitals will be able to, where clinically appropriate, offer patients the SpaceOAR® hydrogel treatment.

SpaceOAR® Hydrogel is the only spacing product supported by NHS England and will aim to help over 1,000 patients this year in the UK. It has already been used to help more than 35,000 prostate cancer patients worldwide.

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