ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 4, 2104) – Mission Health’s Radiation Therapy Department has recently begun to offer a newly approved treatment for advanced prostate cancer that has spread to bone.
The new therapy, Xofigo®, was approved in May 2013 under a special U.S. Food and Drug Administration program designed to get promising drugs that are intended to treat conditions for which no other treatment is available into the hands of doctors more quickly.
Xofigo®, or radium Ra 223 dichloride, is the first approved treatment in a class of drugs known as alpha particle-emitting radioactive therapeutic agents. Given by injection, the treatment is available for patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) that has begun to spread into bones but has not yet invaded any vital organs. Prostate cancer remains a leading cause of death in men, and bony spread is common in advanced disease. Once present, these areas of bony involvement can cause a multitude of problems, including pain.
“Because the radium shares some properties with calcium, it is taken into areas of bone affected by prostate cancer,” said Dr. Erin Kuehn, the physician who treats patients with Xofigo® at Mission Health. “Once incorporated into these bony sites, the radium releases very localized radiation that kills malignant cells in that area. The treatment provides pain relief in affected bones and, in addition, has been found to prolong survival in this group of patients.”
This breakdown of bone, Kuehn adds, is very painful for the patient. Where older treatments for CRPC mostly targeted pain relief, Xofigo® is indicated for both pain relief and to extend patient survival.
Kuehn administered the treatment to the first patient in late December, and expects several additional patients to begin Xofigo® this month. Most insurance companies cover the treatment.
“We have been pleased with the results thus far,” he said. “Patients are monitored monthly during treatment, and our experience thus far has been positive. The patients require very little in the way of radiation precautions after a treatment, and pose no harm to those living around them. It’s very exciting to offer this cutting-edge option here at Mission.”
About Mission Health
Mission Health, based in Asheville, N.C., is the state’s sixth-largest health system and the region’s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina. Mission Health was recognized as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems in 2012 and 2013 by Thomson Reuters and Truven Health Analytics, respectively. Mission Health is one of only two medium-sized health systems to receive this recognition in 2012 and 2013, and the only health system in North Carolina to achieve that distinction.
Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, post-acute care provider CarePartners, and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Mission Children’s Hospital, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma and Women’s Health. Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system’s flagship hospital and is licensed for 730 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care. It also includes Mission Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. With more than 10,500 employees and 2,000 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit mission-health.org.