Published on August 27, 2015
Radiation and radiopharmaceuticals target metastases in the bone to help relieve the symptoms of advanced prostate cancer. Drs. Jeri Kim and Sumit Subudhi, experts from MD Anderson Cancer Center, explain how these approaches work and discuss their use in combination with other treatment options.
Sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network through an educational grant from Sanofi and an independent educational grant from Astellas and Medivation, Inc. Produced in association with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Transcript | Targeting Bone Metastases with Radiation and Radiopharmaceuticals
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Let’s talk about radiopharmaceutical treatment. What is that? I’ll start with you.
So radium, if you remember your periodic table from junior high school.
I don’t remember my periodic table.
Well, calcium, which is a drug that a lot of prostate cancer patients take, because the reason why we take—or not we, but you guys take it, is because the hormone therapies that you’re on lead to bone loss, as Dr. Kim had mentioned earlier.
So we try to counter that by giving you calcium and vitamin D supplements. Well, in the same column of the periodic table is radium. It’s calcium, radium. And so radium is also a bone targeting mineral. And that’s—but it’s a radioisotope. So it’s a radioisotope targeting—that targets the bone.
And this is for men with prostate cancer that’s exclusively in the bone. And that’s how the drug works.
And again, bone metastasis is something that happens with advanced prostate cancer. How does radiation therapy work there?
So radiation therapy, we usually use it as a last resort for symptom management.
So it’s almost like kind of spot welding, so patients who present with bone pain, if other therapists really have not worked, then we can resort to radiation therapy for palliating symptoms.
And are these treatment modes frequently used in combination?
So actually, in addition, with the radiation therapy, in a lot of clinical trials is being combined with immunotherapies to help boost immune systems. So the thinking is that the radiation will kill the cancer cells wherever the radiation is directed at, and that will release proteins that the immune—from the cancer cells that the immune system will recognize, and then the immunotherapy can help further boost that immune response, so that your cancer cells will not just focus on where the radiation was but all over your body to fight the cancer.