Funding to reduce radiotherapy side-effects for prostate cancer

An innovation that can reduce the side-effects of radiotherapy for prostate cancer patients by over 70 per cent is set to be rolled out across the NHS thanks to a new deal.

Struck between NHS England and Boston Scientific, the agreement will see hospitals in England encouraged to use its hydrogel device for all patients who could benefit, making radiotherapy a safer and less painful treatment option for many men.

More than 40,000 new cases os prostate cancer are diagnosed in England each year. When caught early enough, radiotherapy can be a highly effective treatment as high-energy X-rays are targeted at the prostate, killing cancer cells and preventing them from spreading.

However, the radiation is not absorbed by the prostate, meaning that nearby healthy organs can be affected. The use of SpaceOAR hydrogel reduces the amount of radiation that can pass through the prostate and damage the rectum during treatment, by temporarily positioning it away from the high dose radiation used in treatment.

The project is being funded as part of a scheme to fast track specific innovations into the NHS, which over the past three years has already benefitted over 300,000 patients.

Sam Roberts, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: “This programme has been amazingly successful at getting new innovations to patients, with over 300,000 patients benefitting from previous innovations, and this year we have another great selection of proven innovations. We will build on this success with our commitments set out in the Long Term Plan, to support innovators and the NHS to remove barriers to uptake so patients can benefit faster.”

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, added: “This further advance in NHS care for prostate cancer means patients will have safer treatment with fewer side effects. It’s another step forward in world class cancer care.”

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