Radium 233 for prostate cancer

Radium 233 for prostate cancer

Radium-223 dichloride (radium-223) is a radioactive isotope that emits low levels of alpha particle radiation, which causes double-strand breaks in DNA, killing cancer cells. It mimics calcium and accumulates in areas of bone that are undergoing increased calcium buildup, due to bone metastases.

Radium contains many similarities to calcium. It is in the same column of the periodic table. When prostate cancer has gone to the bones, high levels of calcium are observed in in cancer cells.

Radium 233 is a radioactive isotope emitting only low levels of alpha particle radiation. It only travels short distances. Thus the bone cancer cells take up the Radium and it kills them, but there is little or no damage to surrounding healthy cells.

You will have a bone scan about a week before the treatment and you should not consume calcium - supplements, dairy - before the treatment.

The programme involves an injection, 6 rounds every 4 weeks. You can expect to have radiation in your urine and stools. But this is low, and decreases rapidly.

Side effects of Radium 233 (Xofigo®) are usually mild - diarrhoea and sickness being most common. Men should not attempt to father a baby withing 6 months of treatment.

The ALSYMPcA trial in the Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton U. Men who received radium-223 lived longer without having a skeletal-related event than men on the placebo (15.6 months versus 9.8 months). And fewer men in the radium-223 group experienced serious adverse events (47 percent versus 60 percent) or stopped treatment because of adverse events (16 percent versus 21 percent) than in the placebo group (1).

Go to: Lutetium 177 kills prostate cancer cells


  1. Alpha Emitter Radium-223 and Survival in Metastatic Prostate Cancer; C. Parker, S. Nilsson, D. Heinrich, S.I. Helle, J.M. O'Sullivan, S.D. Fosså, A. Chodacki, P. Wiechno, J. Logue, M. Seke, A. Widmark, D.C. Johannessen, et al. The New England Journal of Medicine; July 18 2013


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