Channel NewsAsia

New therapy for prostate cancer patients

When advanced prostate cancer spreads to the bones, patients usually struggle with uncontrollable pain. A new therapy, which comes in a series of radioactive injections, promises to alleviate this.

SINGAPORE: When advanced prostate cancer spreads to the bones, patients usually struggle with uncontrollable pain.

A new therapy, which comes in a series of radioactive injections, promises to alleviate this.

When the radioactive solution is injected in the vein, it travels to sites where cancer cells are found in the bones.

The radioactivity will kill the cancerous cells in the bones and because of its short wave range, it will not affect the tissues around it significantly.

One such injection costs S$10,000 and is administered once a month for treatment, which usually lasts for half a year.

The product has been approved by Singapore's Health Sciences Authority.

Singapore is also the first country in the Asia-Pacific to offer this treatment.

A trial by Bayer Healthcare showed that patients who use the product have a better survival rate and quality of life, as they feel less pain in their bones.

Dr David Ng, head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and PET at the Singapore General Hospital, said: "We actually give the minimum amount that will achieve its purpose and this amount is actually very small.

"And because the radiation that comes from this isotope is very short range, it tends to localise only in the spread to the bones. Therefore, the radiation does not actually come out of the body and affect other people. So it is a pretty safe procedure."

Bayer Healthcare said the therapeutic dose of Radium-223 dichloride is 185 times lower in radioactivity versus a standard diagnostic bone scan.

Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer among men in Singapore and is the sixth leading cause of death from cancer in men in Singapore.

Bayer Healthcare said prostate cancer is rare in men under the age of 50. More than half of all cases are diagnosed in men over 65.

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