Prostate cancer that has spread to the bones can cause pain and fractures.
Loyola University Medical Center is among the first hospitals in Chicago to offer a new targeted radiation treatment that can reduce bone pain and the incidence of fractures – and also extend patients' lives.
The treatment, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is called Xofigo®. A radioactive substance, radium-223, is injected into the patient. Because it is similar to calcium, radium-223 binds to the bone. Radium-223 delivers high-energy radiation over a short distance, providing a targeted treatment that is less damaging to other structures or tissues, said Robert Wagner, MD, medical director of Nuclear Medicine in Loyola's Department of Radiology.
Radium-223 is rapidly cleared from the blood stream. Fifteen minutes after injection, about 20 percent of the injected radioactivity remains in the blood. By 24 hours, less than 1 percent of radioactivity remains.
Xofigo is indicated for prostate cancer patients in which:
- the cancer has spread to the bones, but not to other organs
- the cancer is not responding to hormone therapy or surgery that blocks production of testosterone, and
- the cancer spread to the bones is causing other serious symptoms.
Radium-223 is injected into an IV line in a patient's vein, in a procedure that takes less than 5 minutes. The patient receives a series of six injections, given once every four to six weeks.
Side effects can include upset stomach, diarrhea, swelling in the hands and feet and decreased counts of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
"While the treatment is not a cure, it can enable patients to live longer, with significantly improved quality of life," Wagner said.