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Highlighting Your Health: Therapy makes prostate cancer care convenient

February 12, 2020 posted by Vidant Health News

In rural eastern North Carolina, the burden of travel for a patient seeking treatment can add unnecessary stress in a challenging time. Sometimes a loved one is not available to provide transportation to treatment and other just don’t have the means of transportation.

Patients can greatly benefit from having a treatment option that can be provided as close to home as possible. Vidant Health is making strides to give patients treatment when and where they need it most.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men. To help provide easier access to high-quality care close to home, Vidant Health offers patients a treatment option called SpaceOAR.

SpaceOAR is a hydrogel option for men receiving radiation for prostate cancer. Previously, external beam radiation was the only method to treat prostate cancer. This treatment posed a risk of damaging surrounding organs and limited the amount of radiation a patient could receive. The SpaceOAR helps protect healthy organs while radiation goes to work attacking cancer cells.

“Think of the SpaceOAR like an air bag in a car,” said Todd Jenkins, an oncology physicist with Vidant. “We know that the higher dose of radiation, the better chance we have at eliminating the cancer. The hydrogel acts as that air bag, protecting the rectum and other organs.”

At the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center at Vidant Beaufort Hospital in Washington, the team has used the SpaceOAR in “combination therapy.” This method uses both external and internal radiation. Dr. Matthew Sean Peach, radiation oncologist with Vidant and ECU, implants the radioactive seeds directly into the prostate, taking care of the internal aspect of the therapy. Peach works with Dr. Michael Crawford and Dr. Michael Lobos, both of whom are urologists in Washington.

Dr. Robert McLaurin, a radiation oncologist at Vidant Beaufort Hospital, said external beam radiotherapy alone typically requires patients to travel to receive treatment for nine weeks. With the combination therapy offered at the Sheppard Cancer Center, patients undergo the SpaceOAR and seed implant procedure, which takes a couple hours, and requires far fewer radiotherapy treatments, if any.

About 1 in 41 men will die of prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Early detection is crucial, like with other types of cancer. Dr. McLaurin recommended that men consult their doctor to understand risk factors for prostate cancer.

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