The innovation, which can reduce the side-effects of radiotherapy for prostate cancer patients by over 70%, will be rolled out across the NHS as part of the Long Term Plan to put cutting-edge treatments at the heart of people’s care.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with more than 40,000 new cases diagnosed in England each year. When prostate cancer is caught early enough, radiotherapy can be a highly effective treatment, with high-energy X-rays 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. SpaceOAR hydrogel acts as a spacer, reducing 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 hydrogel 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. Hospitals in England will now be encouraged to use its hydrogel device for all patients who could benefit, making radiotherapy a safer and less painful treatment option for many men.

Dr Sam Roberts, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, confirmed that the 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.”

He continued, “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.”

As part of its ambition to save tens of thousands more lives over the next decade, the NHS is introducing new ‘one stop shops’ across the country to speed up cancer diagnosis.