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31 May 2019

UH Bristol treats the first NHS prostate cancer patient with innovative radiotherapy treatment

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust recently performed the first NHS case of an innovative procedure which can reduce the side-effects of radiotherapy for prostate cancer patients by over 70 per cent.

The new procedure involves injecting a hydrogel into the space between the patient's prostate and rectum before the radiotherapy treatment. The gel then acts as a spacer, temporarily positioning the rectum away from the prostate, reducing the amount of radiation the rectum and surrounding tissue are exposed to. The hydrogel remains in place during the radiation therapy before being naturally absorbed by the body after six months.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men; more than 40,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. When the cancer is caught early enough, radiotherapy can be a highly effective option and can eradicate 60% of tumours. It works by targeting high-energy x-rays at the prostate, killing cancer cells and stopping them from spreading. However, during the treatment not all of the radiation is absorbed by the prostate, meaning that nearby healthy organs and tissue can be affected. This can lead to health complications later in life such as rectal bleeding and diarrhoea, impotence, and bowel problems.

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(Image: Boston Scientific)

The SpaceOAR hydrogel, which is manufactured by Boston Scientific has been clinically proven  to relatively reduce some of these side effects by over 70% meaning that patients can enjoy a much better quality of life following the procedure. Spacing also enables the clinical staff to administer more intense doses of radiotherapy, increasing the impact on the cancer but with the assurance that it won't have an adverse effect on the patient's quality of life in the future.

Professor Amit Bahl, consultant clinical oncologist at UH Bristol carried out the procedure. Speaking about the wider implications this development could have on men with prostate cancer, Amit said:

 "This is a fantastic outcome for prostate cancer patients, who now have the opportunity to undergo radiation treatment while minimising the associated potential side effects.

"Potential side-effects from radiation exposure are a major concern for men who are given the option of radiotherapy and can often negatively impact men's decision to accept this treatment option.

"New technology such as radiotherapy delivery systems and SpaceOAR hydrogel are important, they give men the confidence that not only are we doing our best to treat the cancer, but also that we are protecting their long-term quality of life from bowel, urinary and erectile dysfunction."

Amit Bahl , Consultant BHOC, 180111-33

Professor Amit Bahl

Owen Ainsley, divisional director for specialised services at UH Bristol, said:
Providing innovative procedures such as this is a key part of UH Bristol's plans to develop and continue delivering exceptional care to all of our patients. We are naturally extremely proud to be the first Trust offering such a life changing procedure to NHS patients, and it is testament to the dedication and skill of the clinical teams that we are able to do so.

Notes to editors:

Media contact: Matt Thackray: press officer. 01173423629