Radionuclide therapy, also known as radioisotope therapy or targeted radionuclide therapy, is a form of cancer treatment that uses radioactive substances to target and destroy cancer cells. In the context of prostate cancer, one specific radionuclide therapy technique is known as radionuclide therapy for prostate cancer, or prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) therapy.
Prostate cancer cells often express high levels of a protein called prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), which is not typically found in normal cells. PSMA therapy takes advantage of this characteristic by using a radioactive substance linked to a molecule that specifically targets PSMA. The most commonly used radioactive substance for this therapy is a small molecule called Lutetium-177 (Lu-177), which emits beta particles that can penetrate tissues to deliver targeted radiation.
The process of radionuclide therapy for prostate cancer involves the following steps:
- Imaging: Before the therapy, a patient may undergo a PSMA positron emission tomography (PET) scan to determine the extent and location of prostate cancer cells in the body. This scan helps identify areas where PSMA is overexpressed, guiding the subsequent therapy.
- Radioisotope administration: A radioactive substance, typically Lu-177, linked to a PSMA-targeting molecule is administered to the patient. This can be done via injection or infusion.
- Targeting cancer cells: The PSMA-targeting molecule binds to the PSMA protein on the surface of prostate cancer cells, delivering the radioactive substance specifically to those cells.
- Radiation effect: Once the radioactive substance is taken up by the cancer cells, it emits beta particles, which deposit radiation energy within the cells. The radiation damages the DNA and other vital components of the cancer cells, ultimately leading to their destruction.
Monitoring and follow-up: After the therapy, patients are typically monitored to assess the response and potential side effects. This may include follow-up imaging studies and regular check-ups with the healthcare team.
Radionuclide therapy for prostate cancer, particularly using Lu-177, has shown promising results in clinical trials and studies. It can be used in different stages of prostate cancer, including advanced or metastatic disease, when other treatment options may have limited effectiveness. However, it is important to note that the specific use and availability of radionuclide therapy may vary based on
the healthcare facility and individual patient considerations.