Radium 223 is considered an effective treatment for advanced prostate cancer that has spread to your bones.
Radium 223 dichloride (also just called radium 223) is a radioactive substance that a healthcare professional can inject into your bloodstream to destroy prostate cancer that’s spread (metastasized) to your bones. It’s available under the brand name Xofigo.
Killing prostate cancer cells in your bones helps stop the cancer from spreading further or damaging healthy tissues.
Read on to learn more about when radium 223 is used for prostate cancer, how radium 223 works, and what to expect when you get radium 223 treatment for prostate cancer.
Radium 223 is meant to treat advanced prostate cancer that’s spread to your bones.
It may also help in the following situations:
- Hormone therapy has proven ineffective for castration-resistant prostate cancer.
- Chemotherapy treatments are too strong for your body and have too many negative side effects.
- The cancer has spread to your bones but
nowhere else in your body.
- You aren’t taking abiraterone, a type of hormone therapy, to treat prostate cancer.
Radium 223 is a type of radium that produces
Radium 223 is often effective in treating cancer that’s spread to bones because it
Calcium often builds up in areas that have been injured or damaged by cancer cells. By acting the same way as calcium, injected radium 223 can also build up in areas with a lot of cancer cells. Because its alpha particles don’t travel very far, the radium 223 can kill the cancer cells while sparing nearby healthy tissues.
Radium 223 can also help improve your long-term outlook with advanced prostate cancer.
- get blood tests
- get a bone scan
- stop taking calcium supplements
- ask a friend or family member to take you to the appointment and back home
If you are planning to have a child, your doctor will likely tell you to wait 6 months in order to let sperm heal and regenerate.
Here’s what to expect before and during a radium 223 procedure for prostate cancer.
Before the procedure
A healthcare professional will call you into a private treatment room. You usually do not need to change into a hospital gown or receive any anesthesia.
During the procedure
A medical professional will disinfect the skin on your arm near the injection site and use a tourniquet to help make your veins easier to find.
They will then insert a tube, called a cannula, into your vein. The cannula is attached to a container filled with radium 223, which passes into your bloodstream.
In a few minutes, all of the radium 223 will be injected into your body.
After the procedure
If you’re feeling alright after the injection, you can usually leave right away.
A doctor may recommend that you do the following for the first few days after an injection:
- Drink water to flush the radium 223 from your body.
- Sit down when you urinate to keep radioactive material inside the toilet.
- Consider using gloves when you wipe after having a bowel movement.
- Flush the toilet twice to get rid of radioactive material.
- Disinfect the toilet seat after each use.
- Wash any clothing that gets urine or feces on it separately from other clothes.
Recovery from radium 223 injections is minimal.
You can usually go back to your daily activities right away, unless you have any severe side effects or allergic reactions to the injections.
It’s often recommended that you use contraception for 6 months following treatment with radium 223 because development issues for a fetus are a possible side effect, according to the injection’s prescribing information.
Based on a 2023 study conducted in the Netherlands, radium 223 costs between $43,000 and $57,000 for a six-cycle treatment.
Most health insurance plans cover a majority of the cost. Most government healthcare plans, such as Medicare, cover Xofigo for prostate cancer.
Here are some frequently asked questions about radiation for prostate cancer.
Does radium 223 improve survival in people with advanced prostate cancer?
Radium 223 is shown to improve survival when prostate cancer has spread to your bones. A 2021 study found that people who had six treatment cycles were
What is the most effective radiation treatment for prostate cancer?
This treatment directs highly concentrated beams at cancer cells to destroy them while leaving nearby healthy tissues alone.
Speak with your doctor about this treatment if you’re still experiencing symptoms related to prostate cancer, such as bone pain, especially if other treatments haven’t worked.