By Riva Preil
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of deaths amongst males in the United States, and nearly 30,000 men die annually from the disease. Most of these deaths occur by the time the disease has metastasized (spread) to the bone. Approximately 250,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Clearly, the disease affects a significant portion of the male population, and it is no wonder that researchers have been focusing time, energy, and financial resources to search for the most effective treatments. To date, the two most popular forms of treatment are with radiation therapy or prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland).
Fortunately, recent research has proven that a new type of radiation therapy can increase the average life expectancy of men with advanced prostate cancer. The new medication Xofigo was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2013. It involves emission of alpha particles from radium 223 instead of the smaller and less energetic beta particles (that were emitted from previous radiation treatment, strontium). Dr. Chris Parker of London, lead author of the study which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that men who were treated with Xofigo saw the average survival time increase from eleven months to fifteen months, an approximate 30% improvement. Furthermore, men who were treated with the new drug experienced fewer side effects, such as muscle weakness and bone pain.
The benefits of Xofigo may not end with the prostate! In fact, it may help treat bone metastases related to breast cancer and other cancers, according to Dr. Robert Dreicer of the Cleveland Clinic. Future research is indicated to further assess the potential benefits offered by Xofigo.
To learn more about this study and Xofigo, please refer to this article in the New York Times from July 17, 2013.