CHARLOTTE  – Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute offers a new, targeted  radiopharmaceutical called Pluvicto to treat late-stage prostate cancer. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Pluvicto for patients with prostate cancer who completed hormone therapy and chemotherapy, but whose cancer continues to progress. While not a cure for prostate cancer, this medication has been shown to improve the quality and length of life of many trial participants, according to Atrium Health. 

“We’re talking about patients who, on average, had one to two years of life left,” said Dr. Derek McHaffie, a radiation  oncologist and the director of brachytherapy services at Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute. “With this treatment, we  saw a delayed disease progression, which extended the average expected survival by about four months. It is an  impressive result for a treatment that’s been tested after other therapies have been exhausted. We think the majority of  patients who are candidates for this treatment will benefit.”  

Pluvicto is administered intravenously and works by binding to cancer cell receptors to slow tumor growth. The treatment  involves a quick infusion every six weeks. If there is evidence of benefit to the patient, the treatment can continue for up to  six doses. 

Like all cancer treatments, this therapy carries the risk of side effects, including dry mouth, nausea, loss of  appetite and low red blood cell counts. All patients are closely monitored through regular lab work. Treatment can be  adjusted as needed.  

Several years ago, Levine Cancer Institute began offering another targeted radiopharmaceutical, called Lutathera, to treat  neuroendocrine tumors. The results from this treatment are what encouraged the further testing and development of other  radiopharmaceuticals.  

“Our experience with Lutathera was proof that this type of treatment could work,” McHaffie said. “It created a lot of promise for the  future of radiopharmaceuticals.”.  

Delivering and overseeing radiopharmaceuticals like Pluvicto and Lutathera requires a complex, team approach and  dedicated infrastructure. This means that even though the medications are FDA-approved, they are not available at all  cancer centers.  

“Delivering radiopharmaceutical therapies to patients requires the right facilities to ensure a safe, non-contaminated  delivery,” said McHaffie. “At Levine Cancer Institute, we have the physical foundation, along with the expertise and talent of our multidisciplinary team, to offer this drug today and into the future.”  

Currently, Pluvicto is administered to patients inside the radiation oncology suite at Levine Cancer Institute, but there will  be a dedicated space located within the new radiation therapy facility set to open in 2023.  

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