Radium-223 (Xofigo®) is a new treatment for men with prostate cancer that has spread to the bones and has stopped responding to hormone therapy. Radium-223 can delay bone symptoms of advanced cancer, such as bone thinning, and can reduce bone pain. It may also help men live longer.
Radium-223 is a radioactive substance that is injected into a vein through a small tube inserted into your arm (a cannula). The injection only takes a few minutes.
You will normally have an injection every four weeks, for up to six injections. You can usually go home straight after each injection.
Radium-223 travels around the body in the blood and collects in bones that have been damaged by prostate cancer. It kills prostate cancer cells in the bones, but doesn’t damage many surrounding healthy cells. This means it doesn’t usually cause severe side effects. If you do get side effects, they may include:
- feeling and being sick (nausea and vomiting)
- diarrhoea (loose and watery bowel movements)
- low levels of blood cells called platelets, which can cause bruising.
Radium-223 is available in the UK if you've already had hormone therapy and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel.
It may also be suitable for men who've stopped responding to hormone therapy but haven't yet had chemotherapy. It isn't widely available for these men in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. But if you live in Scotland, radium-223 is available before chemotherapy.
Read more about radium-223.