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Tri-City gets new cancer-fighting weapon

OCEANSIDE — Tri-City Medical Center has added Xofigo (radium Ra223 dichloride) to its arsenal in the treatment of late-stage prostate cancer. Xofigo, which was fast-tracked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval in May 2013, is used to treat prostate cancer that is resistant to medical or surgical treatments that lower testosterone and has spread to the bones with symptoms, but not to other parts of the body.

“Xofigo is a game changer,” said David Evans, a board-certified specialist in nuclear medicine at Tri-City Medical Center. For men with late-stage prostate cancer that has metastasized into the bone, this medication, which is given in lieu of chemotherapy for those who quality, can extend the survival rate from 11.3 months to 14.9 months.

“Most significant, said Dr. Evan, “is that these patients enjoy a substantially greater quality of life throughout this period than they would under a traditional regimen of chemotherapy.”

Xofigo, an injectable medication that is delivered once a month for six months, contains the radioactive material radium 223. Evans noted that radium and calcium have similar chemical properties. “Xofigo goes to areas in a patient’s bones that are growing quickly, just like calcium does,” he said. “Bone metastases are one of those rapidly growing areas.”

Once at the metastases, the radiation from Xofigo gives off a strong energy that travels a very short distance. This radiation is deadly to cancer cells in the bones, but does limited damage to nearby healthy cells.

“We have been extremely excited by the efficacy benefit and safety profile of Xofigo,” said Evans. “Our initial observation is that Xofigo outperforms other agents on the attributes of pain palliation, delaying time to symptomatic skeletal event, and reducing the need for palliative care.”