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Winship now offers new radioactive therapeutic agent for prostate cancer patients

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Winship Cancer Institute has treated the first patient in Georgia with a new FDA-approved radioactive therapeutic drug for advanced metastatic prostate cancer. The patient received a single injection of radium Ra 223 dichloride (brand name Xofigo), the first of six injections. Xofigo has been shown to reduce bone pain and improve quality of life.

"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," says Peter Ross, medical director of radiation oncology at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, where the treatment took place.

Bone is the most common site to be affected by metastatic cancer, and bone metastases are particularly prevalent in prostate cancer. Approximately 90% of patients with metastatic prostate cancer show evidence of bone metastases, which is the main cause of death in patients with prostate cancer.

Patients usually have been treated with chemotherapy, with modest results. Radium Ra 223 dichloride has been shown to improve survival rates in patients by 30% while treating symptomatic bone pain, with few side effects.

Xofigo is the first and only alpha particle-emitting radioactive therapeutic agent approved by the FDA that has demonstrated improvement in overall survival rates. In the coming months, Winship clinicians will offer Xofigo injections to patients at other Emory hospitals as well.

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