Thursday, September 05, 2013 - Greenwich Hospital First in Region to Offer Breakthrough Cancer Treatment


Contact: Irene Villaverde 203.863.3463

Radiation Oncologist Ashwatha Narayana, MD, discusses the use of a major breakthrough cancer treatment. The monitor behind him shows pre- and post-treatment digital images of lung cancer.

Greenwich Hospital First in Region to Offer Breakthrough Cancer Treatment

September 5, 2013 (Greenwich, Conn.) – At the end of July, Greenwich became the only hospital in New York City, Westchester and Fairfield counties to offer Xofigo, commonly referred to as Radium 223, a new radiation oncology therapy that is giving renewed hope to patients with stage 4 hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC). This is especially significant for patients whose cancer has spread to the bone and who, until now, had only chemotherapy – and all the side effects associated with it – as a last treatment option.

Approved by the FDA this spring, Radium 223 became available in July. Radiation Oncologist Ashwatha Narayana, MD, immediately began treating patients with the breakthrough therapy. According to Dr. Narayana, Radium 223 can not only prolong a patient’s life but vastly improve the quality of his life, including a reduction in the often debilitating pain suffered by patients with advanced stage metastatic cancer.

“Unlike chemotherapy, Radium 223 targets only abnormal cells, not bone marrow,” said Dr. Narayana. “So, patients whose cancer has metastasized to the bone may experience significant pain relief within just a few weeks.” His first patients have already reported a marked reduction in pain.

In addition to a survival benefit, using this alternative to chemotherapy also means fewer side effects commonly associated with it, such as infection, nausea and hair loss. Another important benefit for advanced stage patients is the reduced risk of infection, which means less “quarantined” time and more time spent with family and friends. In other words, treatment isn’t just about surviving – it’s about living.

According to a study published in the July 18, 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the success rate of Radium 223 treatment is high. Patients undergo six monthly treatments and just months after treatment begins, PSA numbers begin to decline. “In fact, based on the survival benefit, it was recommended that the clinical trial be terminated,” said Dr. Narayana.

Yale-New Haven Hospital was the first hospital in Connecticut to treat patients with Radium 223. Yale-New Haven and Greenwich were the only two hospitals in the state to offer the new treatment. It’s not expected that Westchester hospitals will be offering the new treatment in the immediate future.

“This is a major breakthrough in cancer treatment and we are thrilled to be the first hospitals to offer this additional layer of advanced care to cancer patients throughout Westchester and Fairfield Counties,” said Daniel Petrylak, MD, Professor of Medicine, Smilow Cancer Center, Yale University, Smilow Specialty Physicians Program.