In a Phase III clinical trial, the investigational drug radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) improved overall survival among prostate cancer patients with bone metastases. These results were presented at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress.

Metastatic cancer refers to cancer that has spread to distant sites in the body. Several types of cancer—including prostate cancer—have a tendency to spread to the bone. Bone metastases can lead to serious problems such as fracture and spinal cord compression, and may require treatment with surgery or radiation therapy.

Radium-223 chloride is a type of drug known as an alpha-pharmaceutical. The drug—which is still investigational—delivers very targeted doses of radiation to areas of cancer in the bone.

To assess whether radium-223 chloride improves outcomes among prostate cancer patients with bone metastases, researchers conducted a Phase III clinical trial among 922 men with hormone-refractory cancer. Patients were treated with best standard treatment plus either radium-223 or a placebo.

  • Median overall survival was 14 months in the radium-223 group and 11.2 months in the placebo group.
  • In addition to prolonging overall survival, radium-223 also delayed the development of bone complications such as fracture.
  • Side effects tended to be minor, and included nausea and loose bowel movements.

Although the drug is still investigational, the results of this study suggest that radium-223 improves outcomes among prostate cancer patients with bone metastases. Radium-223 may also benefit patients with other types of cancer that tend to spread to the bone, but studies in other types of patients have not yet been conducted.

Reference: Parker C, Heinrich D, O’Sullivan JM et al. Overall survival benefit of radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) in the treatment of patients with symptomatic bone metastases in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC): a phase III randomized trial (ALSYMPCA). Presented at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference. Stockholm, Sweden. September 23-27, 2011. Abstract LBA1.

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