New radioactive treatment benefits prostate cancer patients

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A newly approved treatment for advanced prostate cancer delivers a powerful punch of radiation directly to tumor cells that have invaded the bone. The treatment, Xofigo, is now offered at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Xofigo, or radium 223 dichloride is a radionuclide that emits alpha particles. It is, given intravenously once a month for six months. It moves quickly through the blood and straight to the bone, where it is absorbed like calcium and specifically targets tumor cells located next to bone tissue.

A randomized clinical trial found that patients taking Xofigo survived nearly 15 months, compared to 11 months for those who did not take Xofigo. The treatment is for men with advanced castration-resistant prostate cancer that has spread to the bone.

“This gives us a new agent to treat bone metastases, which have proven relatively difficult to treat. This treatment also promises fewer major side effects than traditional chemotherapy medications. Xofigo uses a new mechanism that was not available before and is very different from how traditional chemotherapy works,” says Morand Piert, M.D., associate professor of radiology at the University of Michigan Health System.

In addition to the increased survival, the clinical trial showed a decrease in pain measures. About 36 percent of patients in the Xofigo group required opiate pain medicines, compared to 50 percent of the group that did not receive Xofigo.

Because the radiation is traveling only a very short distance through body tissue, very little radiation escapes from a treated patient. Patients are sent home right away. Since some radiation is excreted through feces, caregivers who help with bathroom needs should wear gloves. Few other radiation precautions are needed after a patient receives Xofigo.

The most common side effects involved low blood counts, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and swelling.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xofigo in May. The University of Michigan is one of the first centers to offer this therapy.

Patients interested in learning more about Xofigo or other prostate cancer treatment options at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center can call the Cancer AnswerLine at 800-865-1125.

Prostate cancer statistics: 238,590 Americans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 29,720 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society

Disclosure: Piert has served as a paid consultant to Bayer HealthCare, the maker of Xofigo.

Media Contact: Nicole Fawcett 734-764-2220