Redefining prostate cancer treatment: how a Belfast hospital is changing men’s lives

Posted on Nov 01, 2016

Prostate cancer is currently the most common cancer amongst men in the UK with over 47,000 diagnoses every year. Leading prostate charity, Prostate Cancer UK, estimates that every hour one man dies from prostate cancer, which equates to more than 10,800 men every year1. There are many types of treatment for prostate cancer with one of the most common being radiotherapy. However, radiotherapy treatment can result in unwanted side effects which can in turn affect long term quality of life.

Belfast City Hospital, part of Belfast Health and Social Trust, is undertaking a sponsored clinical trial to assess a new way of delivering radiotherapy to men with prostate cancer to improve patient outcomes and reduce side effects. The technique, stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR), allows clinicians to treat prostate cancer with high doses of radiation delivered with fewer treatments than usual. Belfast has become the first NHS site in the UK to utilise SpaceOAR® hydrogel, from Oncology Systems Limited, within a trial setting.

The research is studying men with high-risk prostate cancer and treating them with five radiotherapy treatments as opposed to the standard 37-39 treatments. This will allow clinicians to treat the 30 participants with a higher dose of radiation to the prostate without increasing the risk of side effects. Those enrolled in the feasibility study will be treated with hormone therapy and radiotherapy to the prostate and seminal vesicles. In all cases, gold markers will be placed in the prostate beforehand, to allow precise targeting of the prostate during treatment. In addition, half of the men will receive a further dose of radiation to the pelvis.

Sharon Hynds, Lead Clinical Research Radiographer at Belfast City Hospital shared her view on the use of SpaceOAR during the trial,
“The SpaceOAR is expected to decrease side effects experienced by men receiving radiotherapy during the trial. This innovative system works by placing a small amount of gel between the prostate and rectum, a prostate spacer, to increase the distance between them, thus reducing the radiation dose received by the rectum during treatment.”

If successful, the trial could see SABR and SpaceOAR become a standard practice of care within the UK, which would improve outcomes for men diagnosed with high risk prostate cancer. To find out more information and speak to our sales team about SpaceOAR email us at


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