Doug Sommer, 54, is doing well after his first treatment, and has experienced no side effects from the drug. A double bass player in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Sommer said he was “in the right place at the right time with the right doctors” when he was offered to be the first in the state to receive this new treatment option.
“Patients with a type of cancer called castration-resistant prostate cancer with metastatic bone disease, who have failed hormone suppression therapy, now have a new treatment option for their disease,” said Peter Rossi, MD, medical director of radiation oncology at St. Joseph’s and assistant professor of radiation oncology at Emory University’s School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute. “Radium Ra 223 mimics the behavior of calcium and is attracted to bone. Because of this process, the radium, in a high energy state, kills cancer at the bone level so the bone can recover.”
Bone is the most common site in the body to be affected by metastatic cancer, and bone metastases are particularly prevalent in patients with prostate cancer. About 90 percent of patients with metastatic prostate cancer show evidence of bone metastases, which is the main cause of death in patients with prostate cancer.
Until now, patients with this form of cancer have been treated with chemotherapy, with modest results.
“Radium Ra 223 dichloride has been shown to improve survival rates in patients by 30 percent, while treating symptomatic bone pain,” said Henry Krebs III, MD, an interventional radiologist at St. Joseph’s. “Instead of a prolonged treatment plan, such as chemotherapy or radiation, patients receive one injection per month for six consecutive months, with very few side effects.”
Experts say Xofigo is the first and only alpha particle-emitting radioactive therapeutic agent approved by the FDA that has demonstrated improvement in overall survival rates. The drug’s anti-tumor effect on bone metastases is an important addition to the treatment of this cancer.
In the coming months, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Johns Creek Hospital will also offer Xofigo injections to patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and metastatic bone cancer.