Updated: Monday, February 17 2014, 08:05 AM EST
A man in Western North Carolina is likely the first to receive Radium 223 for recurring prostate cancer. That's a new drug approved by the FDA only a few months ago.
As News 13's Jay Siltzer explains in this special Health Alert, even though it's not a cure, it is providing hope.
"We have a safe where the isotope is locked up, comes in a box like this."
That isotope is Radium 223, which some patients in Western North Carolina are now receiving for recurring prostate cancer.
Glenn Reetz, patient, "periodically, I might have a pain, but nothing sustained. Nothing that is debilitating at all."
Still, 87-year-old Glenn Reetz discusses receiving Radium 223 with Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Charles Thomas, at 21st Century Oncology in Clyde.
That's because Reetz has battled prostate cancer for 18 years and has tried several therapies that have eventually failed. Receiving Radium 223 intravenously is a last option.
Glenn, "I'm hopeful it will keep me alive with a good quality of life for however long."
Dr. Charles Thomas, 21st Century Oncology, "it is the first medicine of its type for prostate cancer that has a survival benefit as a radioactive isotope."
Typically there are 6 treatments, each given about 6 weeks apart, lasting an hour at a time.
Dr. Thomas, "the radium 223 emits an alpha particle, which is a large particle and it travels the length of only 10 cells. Less than the thickness of a sheet of paper, so it doesn't irradiate other body sites."
Glenn, "I've had no side effects no nothing from it, it's been very good."
It's a last resort for any man battling prostate cancer.
Dr. Thomas, "this doesn't replace surgery, primary radiation, hormonal therapy is still the mainstay for metastatic prostate cancer, but this is hopefully a low-toxic method that a man can live longer and spend more time with his family."
Potentially living long enough to die of something other than cancer.
Studies show more and more people are living for years, even decades, managing their cancer rather than expecting a cure.