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At New York Methodist Hospital, a new treatment targets prostate cancer

A new treatment offered by radiation oncologists at New York Methodist Hospital (NYM) is helping to extend and improve the lives of patients living with an advanced stage of metastatic prostate cancer.

The therapy, called radium-223 dichloride, is administered once a month for six months on an outpatient basis with a simple injection, and specifically targets and kills cancer cells that have metastasized to a patient’s bones while minimizing harm to healthy tissue. NYM is currently the only hospital in Brooklyn to offer the therapy.

“When prostate cancer metastasizes (spreads), it is most commonly to the bones,” said Hani Ashamalla, M.D., chairperson of radiation oncology at New York Methodist. “This is not only a very serious stage of the disease, but it can also be painful, with symptoms that severely impact a patient’s quality of life. As prostate cancer growth is often driven by male sex hormones, the standard course of action is hormone therapy, but bone cancer cells sometimes prove resistant. Now, thanks to radium-223 therapy, patients at this stage of the disease have not run out of effective options.”

Radium-223 is a powerful radioactive isotope that, like all radiotherapy treatments for cancer (such as external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy), takes advantage of radiation’s ability to kill cancer cells.

Radium-223’s chemical properties allow it to target cancer in the bones specifically and then quickly disappear from the body. Many patients who have undergone this therapy are not only living longer, but are also experiencing considerable relief from pain caused by metastatic prostate cancer.

“Combined with other treatments for metastatic prostate cancer that are available at NYM, radium-223 therapy packs an additional punch that can help our patients live longer, and live better, too,” said Ivan Grunberger, M.D., chief of urology at New York Methodist.

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