Radium Ra 223 dichloride, more commonly known as Xofigo, is the radioactive agent used to treat men with metastatic prostate cancer that has spread to the bones but to no other organs. It is only administered by or under the direct supervision of a doctor, and is only available as an injection.
As with any radiopharmaceutical, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do.
Caution must be taken to prevent those closest to you from accidental exposure to the medicine, as the fluids from your body can pass on radiation to another person. Practice fastidious hygiene while you are receiving this medication, and for at least one week after your last dose. Be certain to flush the toilet several times after each use.
Xofigo can cause birth defects if the father is being treated with it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. Be certain to use a condom if during therapy and for six months after the last dose. Likewise, your sexual partner should be using an effective form of birth control during therapy and for six months after your last dose.
The medication can also temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood. This will increase your chances of getting an infection.
This radiopharmaceutical can also lower the number of platelets in your blood, thereby reducing its ability to clot effectively. As a result, you must adopt all the protocols associated with hemophilia, such as being careful when brushing or flossing your teeth, handling sharp objects, shaving, or playing sports.
The side effects of Xofigo are extensive, as they are with most radiopharmaceuticals, and may include:
- black, tarry stools
- bleeding gums
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- blood in the urine or stools
- chest pain
- lower back or side pain
- painful or difficult urination
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- rapid weight gain
- shortness of breath
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- swollen glands
- tingling of the hands or feet
- troubled breathing with exertion
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
If any of these side effects occur, you should consult with your doctor.