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Radiopharmaceuticals are a treatment option for metastatic prostate cancer patients whose cancer has spread widely to the bone. Learn more about if this treatment might be an option for you.

A senior man laying in a hospital bed

Are radiopharmaceuticals a treatment option for you?

Radiopharmaceuticals are given through a vein to patients with metastatic prostate cancer. They have historically been used to reduce pain caused by cancer that has spread to the bone (sometimes called "bone mets"). Newer radiopharmaceuticals have been approved that treat the cancer itself and have been shown to prolong life.

  • Lutetium-177 PSMA-617 (Pluvicto®) is a radioligand therapy that delivers PSMA (prostate-specific membrane antigen) targeted radiation to prostate cancer cells. To qualify for this treatment, patients must also have a positive PSMA PET/CT scan. PSMA receptors are present on prostate cancer cells to a much greater extent than normal cells. When the radioactive ligand binds to the PSMA on the tumor cells, it brings the radiation directly to the tumor cells.
  • Radium-223 (Xofigo®), is a radiopharmaceutical usually given to patients with prostate cancer that has metastasized to the bones, but studies also indicate that it may increase overall survival.
  • Strontium89 and Samarium-153 are radiopharmaceuticals given to reduce pain caused by bone metastases. Since the approval of Radium-223, the use of these two treatments has decreased.

If your doctor has told you that your prostate cancer has spread, especially to the bones, you may be a candidate for a radiopharmaceutical therapy. Speak with your treatment team to see if one of these options may be right for you.


Preview of a resource that gives information on Precision Medicine in Prostate Cancer.

Precision medicine in prostate cancer

Our resource guide can help you understand more about targeted therapy and precision medicine.

What are the side effects of radiopharmaceuticals?

The side effects associated with radiopharmaceuticals are mainly the suppression, or lowering, of white blood cell and platelet levels in the blood. Your doctor will be able to assess whether your body can handle this side effect before you are given the treatment and will monitor your levels after you receive it.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the leg, ankle, or foot
  • Decrease in blood counts

Your doctor, specialist nurse, or nuclear medicine practitioner will be able to give you more information about the treatment and possible side effects.

Headshot of Dr. Alicia Morgans

Want to learn more?

Dr. Alicia Morgans discusses how radiopharmaceuticals are used and their benefits to metastatic prostate cancer patients.