Last month, I used a new drug, radium-223 (brand name Xofigo®), for the first time to treat a patient with advanced prostate cancer. Approved by the FDA in May, this targeted radiation therapy offers hope for men whose cancer has spread to their bones.
Before radium-223, radiation oncologists like me had few treatment options for patients with prostate cancer with bone metastases.
Treatments such as surgery and hormone therapy are used to lower testosterone levels that drive the growth of prostate cancer. But the cancer continues to grow in some men who’ve been treated. This type of cancer, which spreads after treatment, is called castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Castration-resistant prostate cancer carries the greatest risk for patients and is responsible for most prostate cancer-related deaths. This year alone, an estimated 239,000 American men will learn they have prostate cancer and another 30,000 men will die from the disease.
Radium-223 delivers a strong defense against castration-resistant prostate cancer by improving quality of life and lengthening survival time. A radioactive drug, radium-223 is an alpha emitter that mimics calcium and binds to the bone where cells are rapidly dividing. It precisely delivers radiation while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.
The drug is injected into a patient’s vein during an outpatient visit once a month. Patients typically receive up to six treatments over a six-month period, along with blood work and monitoring in between.
Our hospital in suburban Chicago was among the first in the region to offer this breakthrough treatment. As a radiation oncologist who’s treated countless men with prostate cancer, I’m thrilled to be able to offer patients this new treatment option.