When Prostate Cancer Spreads to the Bones, Radiation Therapy may be an Option
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 165,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2018. At this rate, about 1 out of 9 men will learn they have the disease.
When prostate cancer isn’t caught early or becomes resistant to traditional medical or surgical treatment, it can spread to other parts of the body. And when it does, it nearly always goes to the bones first. In such cases, the cancer treatment specialists of Texas Health Physicians Group have access to innovative therapies like radiopharmaceuticals in the fight against advanced-stage cancer.
“We’re not sure why the bones are a prime target for prostate cancer cells that grow outside the prostate, but what we do know is that controlling or relieving pain and other complications from advanced prostate cancer is an important goal of treatment,” said radiation oncologist Chad Amosson, M.D., of Arlington Cancer Center, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “For men diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, Radium 223 Dichloride is a radiation therapy that is helping some live longer with a better quality of life.”
Radium 223 Dichloride is a radiopharmaceutical that contains radioactive elements designed to help fight cancer from inside the body. The drug is administered once a month into a vein in the arm, where it can then settle into areas of the bone containing cancer. Once there, Radium 223 Dichloride gives off radiation that goes to work to kill the cancer cells.
“Unlike external beam radiation that is used to target a defined area of the body, Radium 223 Dichloride treats the whole body by reaching all of the affected bones at the same time,” Amosson explained. “Because of its radioactive properties, Radium 223 Dichloride isn’t used in conjunction with chemotherapy or other radiation therapy. It’s a standalone treatment that works by binding with minerals in the bone to deliver radiation directly to bone tumors, thus limiting the damage to the surrounding normal tissues.”
Amosson also pointed out that a full 6-month course of Radium 223 Dichloride has shown to be more effective than other radiopharmaceuticals in reducing the pain associated with metastatic prostate cancer. Side effects may range from nausea and a temporary flare- up of pain due to swelling that can result in the extremities to low blood cell counts — a condition that will be closely monitored by a physician.
When Radium 223 Dichloride was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2013, Amosson lead the charge in bringing the drug therapy to Arlington Cancer Center. He now looks forward to the time in the not-so-distant future when its uses may be expanded to the treatment of other cancers.
To learn more about cancer care available through Texas Health Physicians Group practices, please visit THPG.org. For more information about Radium 223 Dichloride radiation therapy, talk to your physician specialist or find one by calling THPG at 1-877-217-4566.